Your market research is not reaching its full organizational and business potential.
Consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers and retailers spend billions of dollars annually to access, mine, consume, and produce information that is intended to provide a competitive advantage to the execution of their business. The recent emergence of big data and new technologies has dramatically expanded our pools of available data points and insight potential faster than many organizations are able to react.
Due to the explosion of available data pools, insights are becoming the new value currency of market researchers, and all too often many of our peers view the insight itself as the end goal. As a result, market researchers are often viewing volume and speed of insights as the key metric to organizational value.
The savvy market researcher knows that the true reflection of value for any insight or bit of information provided to a business is in its ability to illicit an effective change in execution and, ultimately, material financial impact.
To illicit effective change in execution, your insights need to be present at the moment of choice and decision.
In many cases, we as market researchers launch a project to answer a business question. We hypothesize and dig through mountains of data to ultimately prepare a larger research piece that is shared through presentation to a finite group of individuals that had the initial question.
We check the box. Initial curiosity has been satisfied, but have we created the environment where this information is available at scale and mindfully present for the individuals making the day-to-day decisions?
If the answer is no, then the full value potential of your insights are sitting in the back room collecting dust.
The value is not solely about the insight; it is in your ability to effectively distribute and deliver that insight.
Where do I start and how do I get there?
One well-traveled path that market researchers can lean on to raise the value of an insight is to study marketing methods in use today. Content marketing and its more established parent, direct sales marketing, can provide an effective set of tools that market researchers can leverage within their organization. With the right mix of vision, planning, and execution, your insights can dramatically increase their reach and impact.
Step 1 – Define who would most benefit from the insight and why
The executive team is the usual suspect when compiling your list of "who needs to know," but if you want to scale your impact, you need to dig deeper into your organization to find out who makes the day-to-day execution decisions. Consider how the information you have can be of use for those decision makers.
I recommend to my clients and peers to compile a list that describes such elements as: function, name, how they might use the information, what calls to action you might recommend, and where and when they might need the information in their decision processes.
What you should find in your list is that very few individuals will benefit from a simple push of the full presentation, but rather, specific pieces will tie into differentiated and specific needs. This becomes your road map for how you will shape and deliver digestible and actionable insight content to each of those players.
Step 2 – Link the insight to your singular purpose
Jeremiah Owyang is an industry analyst and founding partner of the Altimeter Group. His motto is ABR (Always Be Researching), which fits very well to our industry, but what Jeremiah does better than anyone is communicate his multiple research findings through a singular purpose. In 2013, his focus was on the impact of social media on business, and he has turned his focus on the collaborative economy in 2014. He is so dialed into that singular purpose that if you Google search "collaborative economy," it is his name that comes up at the top of the search listings.
So, where do you find a singular purpose within your organization? You find the clear linkage between your insights and the strategic goals of the company or business unit.
If your company’s strategic objective is to increase the number of consumers of your product, and you have an insights project on price elasticity, you need to find and articulate the linkage between the two. Possibly the price elasticity is more pronounced in a key opportunity demographic, such as low income shoppers. This linkage becomes your magnetic headline and hook to deliver your insight.
Here is the framework to consider: Insight Finding + Strategic Objective + Call to Action = Result
For example: Find out how price influences purchase decisions for low income pickle shoppers, and what you need to do about it.
Step 3 – Determine your delivery method
A mixed media approach is the most complete approach, but from a pound-for-pound perspective, e-mail still reigns supreme as the method of choice in providing a cost effective scale to information distribution, and here is why.
Even though we can all agree to having an e-mail inbox that would reach around the world twice, it continues to be one of the most effective forms of social communication and method for driving action. According to a study published by McKinsey & Co. in January of 2014, e-mail is 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined in customer acquisition.
Even though attention spans are on the decline, according to a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information in January of 2014, an office worker checks their e-mail inbox an astonishing 30 times per hour on average. This will at least ensure that the subject line of your insights will be, at a minimum, seen.
If e-mail is your game, then you might find your caddy and clubs over at mailchimp. Beyond the fact that they offer one of the most popular e-mail marketing tools (complete with cross platform testing and campaign effectiveness analytics), they also provide a series of free e-books to educate you on campaign strategy.
Step 3 – Refine your packaging
Packaging, context, and presentation determine 95% of a message’s ability to reach home. The same attention span study that brought us the e-mail checking neurosis also reveals that the percent of words read on a web page of 111 words or less is around 50%.
To raise your consumption rate, your packaging should scream these 5 traits: personalized, compelling, action-oriented, short, and visual.
To achieve personalization, we return to the data we collected in step one to find the specific impact hook for your target segments. As you consider your audience segmentation, consider personalizing the headline, content, and call to action to be specific to what matters for that particular group. Sales and category management functions tend to have different needs and day-to-day decision parameters than brand management or marketing.
Being compelling and action-oriented requires us to sharpen our copywriting skills. We touched briefly on the magnetic headline and the call to action, which are the bookends of your compelling copy. The journey between those two points is just as important, as every word (and unnecessary word) counts in the stickiness of your message. One incredible and free resource to begin sharpening your copy writing skills is at Copyblogger. Beyond their regular post and podcast content, if you sign up with Copyblogger you gain access to a series of free e-books that nicely wraps up years of their best thinking.
To raise your impact, be as short as possible…15 seconds short, to be exact. If you are still with me here, you are part of the 38% that view an e-mail for more than 15 seconds and quite possibly part of the 65% that is reading this on a mobile device, according to research recently published by Movable Ink. E-mail consumption is clearly moving to mobile platforms where your message is being viewed in line at the super market or between meetings. You have to be mobile friendly, and it needs to get to the point faster than you naturally think.
Spending some effort working towards being visual will translate to information that is consumable and shareable. Nancy Duarte founded and leads an agency that helps some of the biggest brands in the world create better presentations and copy materials. She is also a multiple bestselling author on communication and presentation methods, such as the HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations. Nancy just released a new e-book called Slidedocs (which is also free) that provides an interesting and highly actionable point of view on how to structure your presentation and shareable copy content for broader consumption and impact. The book provides a number of very easy to implement design and copy tactics to increase the readability of your content.
Step 4 – Create your schedule
Putting information into the right hands at the right time is an important aspect of reaching your objectives. A responsible level of planning here can raise your effectiveness. Place the information too far in advance of the decision event, and it may be forgotten. Place the information too close, and it might not be fully consumed before the decision. Based on your understanding of each of the groups you identified in step one, look for various opportunity points to anchor your launch dates. Some of the typical events to consider are regular planning meetings, sales calls, conferences, etc.
Once you collect this information, generate an actual calendar schedule. The schedule should include the date, time, target distribution groups, and content packages that will be delivered for each mailing. Having the schedule written out also creates a very easy document to share with your team members in the event they will be assisting you OR have a campaign of their own in the works.
Step 5 – Flip the power switch on and adjust
At this point, you should have a reasonably robust and actionable campaign plan. Yes, you have built a campaign, and now it is time to execute it. Follow your schedule, release your copy and insights into the world, and follow up with your recipients to find out how it influenced their effectiveness in producing tangible business results. Use this information to tweak your existing plan or use it in your next.
Are you ready to make a difference? In the end, to make an insight matter, it must influence a decision.