• Julian Watson

More bang for your insight buck

Insight is a subjective and often misunderstood term. Insight also sounds a little bit sexier than market research, which is why I think everybody is trying to be a Data Scientist or Futurologist these days.

In its broadest sense, insight is the capacity to gain a robust and deep understanding of someone or something. From a commercial perspective, insight tells you why something has happened and how you can capitalise on it. 

The industry has moved on dramatically in my 15 years, driven by technology, and it has never been easier to tap into the thoughts of consumers and understand behaviours. In my experience, there are three critical success factors to helping businesses grow through insight. Your insight needs to be accessible, inspiring and actionable. 

Accessible isn’t the most exciting term, but it is critical to the success of a customer driven business and is relatively cheap to achieve. Organised, accessible insight allows you to share and deepen knowledge, fuelling creativity. Deep knowledge is essential for innovation and ultimately growth, as described by Will Gompertz (BBC Arts Editor) at the 2017 Market Insights Forum, “great ideas are rooted in deep knowledge rather than moments of inspiration”.

Some of the best examples of accessible insight come from businesses that embrace technology and adopt an internal “push” communication strategy, rather than relying on people to navigate their way through complex network folders. Treat each insight like a valuable asset, making it easily accessible and engaging for all key stakeholders.

I estimate that around 80% of the information and insight required already exists in a business, the challenge is finding the time and resource to mine, reframe and then action it.

Online ‘consumer hubs’ are an extremely cost-effective way of organising all of your insight into an accessible and inspiring format. They are also a fantastic training resource. Discipline is key though and you must manage the hub with a great deal of care and love. One of the most exciting advances in accessible insight is the ability to analyse all of your video footage in one platform. Companies such as LivingLens can provide a video intelligence platform that captures and analyses all of your video footage. An extremely engaging way of telling customer stories.

Great insight is also inspiring, which usually means simple and visual. For something to be truly inspiring, your audience needs to understand it, buy into it and want to talk about it. 

Businesses don’t need 100 slide presentations or reports, they need five key opportunities delivered with clarity and gusto, backed by solid evidence. Cutting through the fluff and boiling everything down to just the key opportunities (5 max as rule of thumb) is tricky and can be uncomfortable for some people, but my best work has always been crunched down to just one page. This does depend on your audience though and the detail will always need to be available if required. When delivering insight always tell a story and, if you can, always include a customer comment backed by robust data. The combination is compelling and inspiring.

The last and, surprisingly, often overlooked part of the insight process is making it all actionable. This usually means knowing the client/business and having an opinion on how best to capitalise on the opportunities presented. Facilitated action planning workshops are the best way of getting to a quick consensus and laying down plans. I would love to run action planning workshops for all my clients, but this isn’t always practical and follow-up discussions will get you to the same place, albeit at a much slower pace. 

Getting agency and client teams together to discuss strategic opportunities and agree the way forward is the biggest barrier to effective action planning against insight. 

Internal training on the role and importance of insight within a business is an effective of combatting this. Structured insight capability training can also help move you from a tactical research provider to more of a strategic thought partner, as shown in the Boston Consulting Group framework below.  

So to get more bang for your buck - make everything accessible, take time to inspire your audiences and drive through the actions on the back of the insight.

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