Monday, November 06, 2006

Marketing Focus Groups

What's better than being paid $75 to have free drinks and sandwiches and tell someone my opinions on a product? Getting paid $75 to go home because I got picked as the overflow when they overbooked the session. . . whoo hoo! Although I had some strong opinions on this particular subject (online travel booking sites) and wanted the client to hear my thoughts, I was super happy to take the money and go back home. It was like getting paid to have a short walk and a chat with some strangers in comfortable chairs. An older man cackled to me about how his daughter doesn't want him feeding her baby anything but formula but how he's been giving the kid steak to suck on since she was 2.5 months. He also decided during our conversation that I was good luck and he was now going to play the lottery.

Marketing focus groups are a really easy way to make some fast cash, by the way. You simply sign up with the companies (in big cities), tell them a lot of personal demographic information, then get screened for various product surveys. I've been paid $125 to talk about cheese for two hours, and about the same at another company to talk about ham. In fact that time I got a bunch of cash and a bunch of ham, sausage and Canadian bacon when I left (good thing I was headed home!).

I am also a lab rat at MIT occasionally, since I live nearby and it's so intersting to see what's going on. I only do non-invasive tests (no drugs, etc.). I got to try out the interface of the computer screen of a luxury car, have test driven a robot arm, drawn pictures on new tablet PCs, answered reading comprehension questions while adding numbers, tested the x-ray screening system used at Logan for spying guns, timepieces and knives in luggage, and done a lot of music related hearing tests. These tend to pay in the $10-20/hr realm. I sometimes schedule them for the morning so I get up and going and on my self-employed way. In fact, this is how we discovered my secret super power. I tested as having Super Human Hearing one day at MIT (in all but the very highest range, so don't try that dog whistle on me). Glenn and I have thought and thought and have yet to come up with a use for this super power. Let me know if you can think of one.


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