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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Moving From Consumer Insight to Action

We always have talked about how best to approach a host of business challenges, such as segmentation, branding and innovation. But we all recognize as the name of our company suggests, that conducting great research is only part of the answer. If insight is not managed and presented in a way that encourages positive and presented in a way that encourages positive change and business growth, then it’s a waste of time and money for all concerned.
So how do you ensure that insight encourages positive change that can really lead to business growth? While agencies can and certainly do help with this (some perhaps do it more than others), previous research suggest that it is client-side insight managers who spend most of their time focused on this. Many agencies spend much of their time focused on the delivery of the research itself. So those at the sharp end asked some client insight managers for their thoughts on this crucial issue How do you drive your research through the business so that is an effective driver of change?
Is everyone on Board?
It clearly implies that stakeholders, particularly the senior ones, need to be engaged with the research upfront to maximize the chance of success. One or two clients said that it was really not a problem they faced. These were not people with especially large egos. Rather, these fortunate insight managers were in particularly consumer focused organizations that had consumer-oriented brand goals hardwired into their business planning. As a result, insight was highly thought of and closely integrated into business and marketing decisions.
There is nothing like meeting the customer
We all work hard to convey the opinions of consumers and customers to our stakeholders. But clients say there really is nothing to rival having stakeholders experience the customer for themselves. The more that stakeholders life experiences diverge from consumers, the more this holds true. There are many ways to do this, from making engaging videos of customers, to co-creation sessions, and having actors share their in character thoughts and experiences with stakeholders through to immersing stakeholders in the customers world. This immersion can take several forms, whether virtual – via blogs, online diaries and direct online interaction, to consumer diaries or collages or simply spending an hour, a day or a week with a consumer.
Some ways to “deliver”
This is all well and good. But at some pint, and in some way, we still need to share insight in a way that drives action over a period of time in a series of meetings, a presentation, a workshop, a document. It is clear that a lot of thought needs to go into working out what will work best. Clients mentioned a range of elements that can help to move the organization from insight to action. First of all, clients suggested getting stakeholder to thing upfront about their pre conceptions and what they expect the research to say. If the results are different, this encourages stakeholders to understand why things look different and to dig into what that implies for their next steps.
Clients also cited workshops, often run by external people. Workshops can mean different things in different businesses, but they are mentioned frequently as a key method for driving action. Many clients recognize that a number of different meetings are needed to get from insight to action. Rather than sharing masses of slides with everyone, some do one short overall presentation of the headlines to the full team and follow this with a series of smaller, more focused workshop style sessions with the relevant team members for specific brands or products. Having a broad mix of people at the larger sessions such as people from different internal functions, and partner agencies (design, PR, web, media planning, advertising, etc) combined with very clear, tangible goals for the meeting, leads to greater creativity.
Instead of thinking in terms of research driven workshop, some clients work hard to embed insight teams into the broader business processes. So that research simply becomes an automatic and integral part of what is done. Sometimes a short one to one with a key influencer can have as much effect as a longer workshop. Finally, some things that may seem incidental at the time of creation can make a massive difference in the long run like nicely printed, highly portable summary documents that actually get taken to meeting.

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