Market Research & Activation: How a Brand Insights Team Can Deliver More Impact with Fewer Resources
We see almost every day that the global economy is rocking. Consumer confidence is rising. And corporations are flush with cash. But even so, market research budgets shrink. It seems insights teams continue to be asked to do more with less and we expect that to continue.
In a world of constrained budgets, market researchers, account planners and insights strategists have to find ways to make an impact with fewer resources. Teams will need to make every project and every insight count within their organizations.
Here are three ways your insights can have more impact in a world of shrinking resources.
Tell them something they don’t already know
If you want the attention of senior stakeholders in your organization, tell them something they don’t already know.
How do you do this? Start by looking for human insights instead of consumer insights.
Most brand teams – particularly those managing large legacy brands – have researched their consumer to death. They already know everything they’re ever going to know about the consumer part of people; that is, the part of people that shops and buys. But our consumer-self is only a fraction of who we are as human beings. Think about this personally. Are you defined by your life as a consumer?
So instead of researching consumers again, spend some time listening to peoples’ human stories. What’s on their minds? What do they care about? What is the life story they are trying to write for themselves? What tensions are they struggling to manage? And then, and only then, ask yourself, “How can my brand help them with this?”
I guarantee you, if you take a human insights approach to your work in 2018, you’ll find things to tell senior stakeholders that they don’t already know.
Tell a great story
People don’t remember data points. They remember stories.
If you want your insights to make an impact, you have to find the story within your data. At RealityCheck, we practice something we call “Insights Journalism™.” It’s all about reporting insights like a news story. The most relevant, new information comes first and the story flows from there.
But finding the story is only half the battle. Once you know the story you want to tell, you have to tell it in a way that best fits how your organization shares information.
If I never have to produce another PowerPoint deck, I’d be ecstatic. Okay, maybe that’s a little extreme. PowerPoint is great. But remember, it is presentation software. It is best suited for creating slides to accompany a live, in-person presentation.
Yet somehow, PowerPoint has become the de facto deliverable tool for market research. If you’re going to present your insights to an audience, then PowerPoint – or some other presentation software – is the right medium. But if that’s not how your organization shares information, then PowerPoint isn’t the best tool.
If you want your insights story to have organizational impact, to be shared widely and to inspire people to act, tell it in a way that suits how people will share the information. There’s a myriad of different ways to package stories. Here are a few examples:
If people will read your story on their own, without a live presentation, then package your insights story as a stand-alone magazine-style article.
If your organization isn’t a “reading culture,” consider a documentary-style video or a podcast-style audio report.
If you live in a visual world, consider an infographic to tell the story in a concise, impactful way.
The point is that making an impact isn’t just about finding great insights. You have to convey those insights in a compelling story, packaged in a way that fits how the story will be shared.
Become a great red zone team
We have had many clients express a common frustration. They get great, meaningful insights that create excitement among the immediate team. They can see the potential for innovation that will transform a brand or a messaging strategy. They feel a sense of progress and hope. But after the presentation, things get bogged down. The team doesn’t have a plan for “selling” the insight throughout the organization. The project loses steam. It flounders. And then it gets overshadowed by day-to-day priorities.
Pardon us while we use a football analogy. In football, they call this getting to the “Red Zone” but failing to score. The “Red Zone” is the part of the field that is within 20 yards of the goal line. In the “Red Zone,” everything gets harder. There’s less room to work with. The defense stiffens. The pressure mounts. Some teams are great “Red Zone” teams. They are masters at traversing the final 20 toughest yards to the end zone. Other teams can move the ball down the field but can’t get it into the end zone.
Failing to score from the “Red Zone” is what so often happens with insight activation. For your insights to have impact, you have to be great in the “Red Zone.” You have to develop ways not just to find great insights, but to activate them. Your research plan should include how you’re going to sell your insights throughout the organization and inspire activation across multiple channels. Team immersions, innovation workshops and co-creation work sessions are all ways our clients have become better in the “Red Zone.”
So there you go. Three ways your insights can have more organizational impact in 2018. We hope you find these tips useful. And let us know what you think. Tell us how you’ve made your insights have more of an impact on your organization.