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I’ve just returned from running a two-day workshop in Japan. The topic was “Developing Actionable Insights for Impact”. One of the things that I loved about this workshop was that it wasn’t only for Market Research and Insight (MRI) specialists; marketing was invited too.

Even though MRI groups generally report to marketing, they often seem to me to be working on different planets! Sadly, the collaboration between these two departments usually goes no further than project briefings and results delivery. But developing actionable insights together can certainly help.

I am sure that many of you reading this, are asking why closer collaboration is so important. It is NOT essential; it is VITAL! Successful companies depend upon deep customer insights to grow their business.

They understand the importance of insight generation and the challenges faced by everyone in developing them. Therefore the best marketers search for greater collaboration. I always encourage the market researchers in my client companies to socialise with other departments, rather than sitting behind their computers all day.

Despite being some of the best marketers I know, my clients are still keen to progress their thinking and processes to embrace customer-centricity in every area of their organisation. This seems to be a trait of all successful companies that they have the desire to improve and learn more. They never consider that they “know it all,” which is a reason I have often heard from businesses when I ask why they are not doing more to understand their customers!


7 Simple Rules for Actionable Insight Development

To help everyone with insight development, here are the seven rules:

1. Turn business objectives into customer-centric ones. 

If you are defining your objectives in terms of the business, such as increasing sales, beating the competition or increasing awareness, you are not thinking customer first.

Instead, identity what you want to change in terms of your customers’ behaviour or attitude, and you are likely to correctly identify the actions to be taken.

2. Insight generation should start with customer connection.

When was the last time you personally spoke with your customers? If it wasn’t in the last week, you’re not getting out enough! Make a habit of regularly watching and listening to your customers.

People are changing faster than you may realise, so keeping your finger on the pulse of market changes is essential. The good news is that these days you don’t even have to leave your office! Market research interviews and group discussions can be videoed live, so make a habit of listening in.

3. Have regular contact with all other departments.

It is impossible to really understand the business if your contacts with other groups are limited to meetings and presentations of analyses you have conducted or plans you have written. It must become a daily habit, so you are seen as the true voice of the customer/consumer internally.

Meet for a coffee, or go to lunch with someone other than your usual group of colleagues. These impromptu meetings will deliver big on understanding and will provide invaluable information from the perspective of other departments.

4. Get MRI to share their nuggets of information at every occasion.

While they may present findings in formal meetings and presentations, I know that market research and insight teams learn a host of new things about the business every day. So why not share them?

Every project and analysis turns up more information than that for which it was designed. So make them a regular part of newsletters, Lunch & Learn sessions, or internal “Tweets” and they will inspire new thinking across the organisation.

5. Get into the habit of speaking with consumers

Get into the habit of watching and listening to customers at every chance you can. As already suggested, join in when research projects are being run. You can also listen in to call centre conversations, speak to demonstrators and merchandisers, or even talk to shoppers at retail.

These connections can quickly become addictive, as they are for the best marketers in the most consumer-centric organisations. As an added bonus, the insight development process will become both quicker and less challenging for everyone.

6. Ask MRI to analyse more than market research information alone.

They are the best synthesisers you have in your organisation and can manage multiple data sets from all available sources. There is so much information flowing into organisations today that there is more data than even the best marketers can manage.

According to IBM, more than two-thirds of CMOs feel totally unprepared for the current data explosion, especially as it relates to social media. And in research conducted by Domo, a similar number of marketers claimed to be unable to handle the volume of data available to them. Ask MRI to help and you will both be better informed and also feel less overwhelmed.

7. Remember that insight development takes energy and time.

Although my clients’ teams got close to the perfect expression of an insight in just two short working sessions, it usually takes days, if not weeks or even months, to refine, group and synthesise information down to an actionable insight. However, the right training and some simple tools can speed their development for even less than the best marketers.

If you’re interested in learning more, I can provide inspiring talks and fun training on many areas of insight development. Download the C3Centricity training brochure and then contact me so we can discuss your precise needs. All our courses are personalised to meet your specific requirements; no off-the-shelf trainings are ever given.