How to Transition from Project Manager to Business Strategist by Providing Meaningful Brand Insights
Research-fueled brand insights enable businesses to work smarter, while inspiring and driving growth, leading to new products entering the market to meet a consumer need. Currently, consumers expect personalization and customization from brands. This makes consumer insights increasingly important, and paves the way for insights professionals to offer analytics and meta-learnings, to guide how businesses innovate.
Businesses that use consumer data effectively will become disruptors in the marketplace by offering new personalized services that become necessities in consumers’ lives. However, in the age of busy schedules and never-ending calendar invites, today’s insights professionals are struggling to use consumer insights proactively.
Why are consumer insights professionals struggling to keep up?
Meetings, Meetings, and More Meetings
Unfortunately, market research managers are being forced to take on the responsibilities of project managers. Between the meetings, constant phone calls, briefing sheets, and decks, insights professionals are having a difficult time adding tangible value to their businesses—a wider, cultural predicament within the fast-paced marketing world.
Insights teams are often suck in silos, working on unrealistic timelines and being asked for information that doesn’t address the root of what the business really wantsto know. And so, the unimaginative process rolls on as a means for insights professionals to stay afloat, though rarely addressing questions that would enable the organization to innovate.
An Inefficient Digital Model
Despite the digital tools that enable businesses to do research faster and smarter, many still aren’t moving fast enough—never getting to play offense. Businesses are falling behind, not only due to insights managers’ busy schedules, but because their model for operation does not align with the new, digital world.
The demand for digital market research has risen, so more organizations are creating solutions, which has added complexity to the growing market research landscape. However, this complexity is just one part of the equation. A larger issue is that the model we are working from was established in the pre-digital world and is therefore broken. Adding new technologies and buzzwords, such as AI or automation, to a fundamentally broken workflow will not help your brand get smarter—it will only add more complexity.
What are the implications of poor research?
When there are not enough hours in the day, the tendency is to cut corners, and do a “good enough” job. However, in a value-driven field, good enough adds nothing to the business. Without thoughtful processes, there will be no valuable insight.
Insights teams are typically asked to validate a predetermined point of view, rather than contributing data to inform business decisions. Why employ a consumer insights team if not to create valuable research, test concepts, and employ a proactive marketing campaign that will enable you to be an offensive player in the marketplace?
So how do we transition to providing meaningful brand insights?
Define Success for Your Business
The first step for optimizing your research data is determining what success looks like for your business. What question are you trying to answer with your research? What campaign are you looking to support? Consumer insights professionals who incorporate success metrics into their framework will help standardize what success looks like, while driving foresight for the business. Additionally, you need to integrate with your stakeholder departments and external vendors to ensure you have a similar vision of success. Setting expectations in this way will create a more holistic insights ecosystem.
Digitize, Standardize and Modernize
Insights professionals should use the increasingly digital world to their advantage: outsource and automate wherever possible, using tools and technologies to increase efficiency. If your job is repetitive or monotonous, a robot will be able to do it more efficiently. This includes survey scripting, sample recruitment, data collection, visualization, and even much of the analysis. That said, giving up these tasks will claim time back for those who can act as strategists, whether that’s making sense of data, integrating data, analyzing data, or helping businesses act, based on data.
The next step is standardizing your data across audiences, markets, tools, partners, success metrics and taxonomies to create a comparable data set. Run the test throughout the whole year, then figure out ways to have success metrics feed back into those ecosystems, so you can start developing predictive market outputs. After standardizing, you will notice how much time you used to spend conducting repetitive research, asking the same questions to which you already have answers.
Modernization is the key component in creating stronger insights. Although the model from which we work from has fundamental issues, digitization and modernization will help us reinvent the way we see consumer insights. Rather than providing data to validate a preconceived notion, we must be transparent in our research, so we can reach our goal of creating products to address consumer demand.
Modernization also means understanding the new-age consumer. From modifying your methods to target consumers on mobile, or using mobile to ask in-context questions while consumers are making a purchase decision, it’s important to design your data collection around your consumer’s touchpoints. Additionally, modernization means creating focused business questions to provide smarter, concise surveys to your busy consumers.
Building foresight is important in creating predictive concept tests. Before diving into new research, the best insights professionals first look at their standardized data to determine what information they already know. When you have established success criteria, you can then create guardrails to guide your internal and external partners by sharing learnings you have. This will save significant time and money.
Becoming the Consumer Insights Manager of the future
When you chose your career path in consumer insights, I doubt the “project management experience” was what excited you. Instead, I assume it was for your passion for understanding people and your enthusiasm to create products or services that would benefit lives. In order to get back to those passions, we must evaluate the broken system we work in and determine what steps we can make to break the cycle. If we can do this, we’ll develop a more imaginative ecosystem, and we’ll also provide concrete value for our business.