Market Research: Applying Human Insights for Strategy Development
How Deep Story Analysis Can Make Your Marketing Research More Effectively Agile
Agile. Agile. Agile. This is a word frequently spoken by insight professionals and marketers these days. They usually only say it once but it has become the “location” of our lexicon. And the need for it is real. Faster to market. No time. Less budget. Research that is quickly and clearly actionable. Companies and brands are getting squeezed and new ways of gaining insights more quickly are entering the market every day.
Our feeling is that you can be much more effectively agile if you have a foundational understanding of your target on a human level. The better you know their deeper motivations, the more effectively agile you can be partly because you don’t have to thoroughly test everything when you know how someone is going to react.
So maybe along with agile we should also say Foundational. Foundational. Foundational.
What do we mean by “Foundational?” It’s important to clarify this just to make sure we’re talking the same language. We see it as developing insights that build or reinforce the strategic foundation of your brand or business. This generally means gaining a deep and actionable understanding of segments, users and other groups of human beings to develop the conceptual springboards that will inspire brand strategy, positioning, messaging and product innovation. We tend to use psychological interviews, digital and F2F ethnography as well as other immersive methods to get to the “deep story” that conceptualizes the core belief system of a target group. The depth of this kind of exploration always yields new insights that haven’t been explored before.
Think about this on a personal level. Don’t you know what the people closest to you in any situation are going to say about most things before they say it? Sports? Politics? Fashion? Food? Beverages? And…on a deeper level…belief systems? That’s because you know the “deep story” of the people closest to you. You know the people and events of their lives that have shaped their perspective and formed the foundation of their motivations. You don’t just know what the people closest to you believe – you often also know why they believe what they believe. You know what happened to them when they were younger. You know how they were raised, why they’re doing the work they’re doing now. You may know why certain people influenced them. You may also know their aspirations for the future.
What if you knew these things about the people you think will be most interested in what you’re selling?
Well, that would make you much more agile in some really tangible ways. All of a sudden you can make intuitive judgments about what they’ll say instead of testing messages or ideas or products every step of the way. That saves you a lot of time and money. And you’ll be mostly right. (BTW…part of being agile is accepting you may not be absolutely sure you’re right but you will be right enough).
Instead of thinking of foundational understanding and agility as two separate things let’s combine them. Let’s call it Foundational Agility.
There are many strategic advantages and process benefits to combining these two concepts…knowing the person you’re selling to on this human, foundational level so you can be more effectively agile in your strategy development and time to market. Here are a few advantages and benefits to think about:
Foundational Agility — Strategic Advantages, Competitive Edge
Foundational research gives you a competitive edge. Let’s go back to thinking of this on a more personal level. Let’s say someone new comes into your friend group or your family and they present an idea or start talking to someone you know intimately in a way that demonstrates they don’t really understand who they’re talking to. They won’t fit in or at least will have a lot more difficulty connecting because they are talking first and not taking the time to listen (and get to deeply know) the person they’re trying to “sell” their idea to. You are on the inside because of the time you’ve taken to know this same person. You have an advantage. This same scenario plays out time and again in the business world.
When you feel the insights that drive their motivation you can act on them more quickly. You just know. You can act intuitively. And intuitive actions happen quickly. Instead of getting bogged down in yet another layer of testing you will make decisions on messaging or innovation projects more quickly than your competitors will. You will beat them to the punch because of the investment you’ve made in your deeper understanding.
You will build momentum for business building ideas more quickly within your organization. All of a sudden you won’t be presenting a “target” or a marketing idea to your management…you’ll be able to inspire people within your organization to act through telling stories. Stories about the person you’re selling to. Stories about their lives that inspire people within your company. Stories about how your brand helps them in their lives. Stories that make you feel better about your company and your brand. And others will feel your energy. This will help you create a movement around the insights and ideas you’ve developed…not just present them in a PowerPoint and hope everyone will do something.
Your brand or business will feel like a more intuitive, human and contemporary organization to the people who buy your products or services. You will come across differently than your competitors. You will feel more relevant, more understanding of their needs…a brand or company that is listening to them and wants to help. Not a greedy corporation that’s just out to sell them something.
Foundational Agility — Process Benefits, Efficiency
You can eliminate the time and costs of multiple studies. A better understanding of someone’s deep story means you can save weeks or months in time and be significantly quicker to market. This level of understanding can minimize the money you spend on copy or concept testing by allowing you to do it in more of a “disaster check” way or perhaps not doing it all.
You can do more with less. You are resource-challenged and that’s not changing. Foundational Agility focuses the whole team on feeling the deep story and developing ideas, messaging and innovations that truly help the person you’re selling to. The mission is clear. Decision making is quicker. When everyone buys in on a deeper level they are motivated to do more with less.
Action makes everyone feel more productive. This will make everyone in your organization happier because they’re taking action versus spending all their time thinking. Ideas and initiatives get bogged down when they are over thought and over analyzed. Part of being agile is feeling there is a sense of constant momentum and progress. You may end up telling an agility success story within your organization.
We hope the notion of Foundational Agility helps you think of ways you can become more effectively agile. Maybe you have a Foundational Agility story you’d like to tell us. We love to hear success stories. Or maybe you’d like to hear more about some specific ways we can help you put this process in place in your organization. Either way, we always love to hear your thoughts.