To make market research projects a success, it’s important to have internal leadership support and set the right expectations. In this article we discuss some skills needed in research to make sure to get the support you need and keep it.
The skills needed in research that we discuss in this article include:
- How to move fast
- Making decisions
- Telling better stories
- Continuing education for researchers
The need for speed
One of the internal expectations often is that market research happens fast! And, indeed, it can happen much faster than years ago.
- Send out video surveys to your customers.
- Get responses in moments.
“That doesn’t mean insight is slow,” she said. “Insight is something you come to that shines the light on something that not everyone knows.”
Also keep in mind that getting feedback isn’t that difficult — at its core — as long as you are willing to ask the right questions of the right people.
“Insight professionals just love learning,” Elisabeth said. “The key is to learn something new and not just keep repeating things.”
Elisabeth’s award-winning “Outside In” video surveys fall into that category. The company learns, on an ongoing basis, how customer rituals and behaviors change. It then shares that information internally.
“One of the things that has worked for us with this program is that it’s light touch and easy,” she said. And it’s ongoing, which can help with speed.
In the past, consumer insight projects were more intensive, she said, with:
- Everyone having to go out into the field.
- Then a day of work.
- A debrief.
“It’s this whole thing, and I don’t say that to mean it doesn’t have value. It does have value, but it’s resource intensive in terms of people’s time, and it can be expensive.”
In Elisabeth’s video feedback project, they ask questions of their customers through the Voxpopme video surveys platform, and the responses are summarized in short videos presented to stakeholders.
“And they come out once a week or once every two weeks,” she said. “We are asking for a little time to give you a lot.”
Skills needed in research: Tell better stories
Stakeholders and leadership often are stretched to the max with meetings, PowerPoints and the like. The ability to send them short videos makes your points quickly. Elisabeth said these tidbits of ongoing, shared information can help stakeholders and leaders make decisions on a daily basis.
“It’s in those smaller everyday decisions — those gut decisions,” Elisabeth said. “There are so many decisions that we make every day. As a seasoned marketer, you can make those decisions and often be right, but what is informing your decision is your experience in the market.”
Leaders — and, really, many people — often make decisions based on their own experiences, even when they aren’t exactly like their target customer. That can create problems, and hearing directly from customers through video can influence decisions beyond personal preference.
“That’s so true,” added Jenn Vogel, vice president of marketing at Voxpopme and host of “Reel Talk.” “When I have an opinion about something based on my own experience, I say ‘I’m a sample of one, but this is how I feel about this.’ ”
“There’s this thing in research where people sometimes say, ‘Well, that’s an outlier,’ ” Elisabeth said. “And they dismiss it. If it doesn’t connect with what I already know, then I’m going to dismiss it. And yes, sometimes you should, of course. But that’s really the interesting part to dig into.”
How to keep leaders and stakeholders informed
The substance of the information and the way it’s presented can be equally important. That can include the subject lines of emails sent to leaders.
“Results from survey 2021-21-55 are now available” might be technically correct but not very engaging.
“Top 10 improvements customers want NOW!” or “100 customers share their top features” might get more opens, for example.
Once a leader opens your communication, the insights need to be:
- easily digestible
- to the point
“What really sticks with people is when they hear a story,” Elisabeth said. “And when they are in somebody’s home, that sticks with people for years sometimes.
“That’s where I think video surveys can help bring your insights to light,” she said. “Make people informed, but also make it stick in their brain a little bit better.”
Making insights easier to remember also makes them easier for people to play back. That can be a huge advantage. Imagine leaders and other stakeholders being able to easily share the successes and, with that, internally market the research product.
Use language your leaders can relate to
Putting activities and results into the language that the target audience can resonate with are skills needed in research.
“One of the things that has held back a lot of researchers and insights professionals is their inability to frame their results and their impact in commercial terms,” said Mike Stevens, editor of insightplatforms.com on “Reel Talk.” “They need to be able to talk about driving growth in cash flow or churn reaction – speaking the language that commercial people will understand.”
For example, call “top of the funnel” activities “future cash flow.”
“Ninety-five percent of what’s in your B2B funnel is people that are not currently in the market to buy,” Mike said, but if they are in your target market they may still need your product down the road. “These are the types of frameworks and type of thinking that research need to take to heart if they are going to be able to sell their stories better.”
Skills to tell that story are important for researchers and most importantly include building that narrative.
What insights are most helpful?
“Everything,” Elisabeth said. “I want to know everything about you, but I can’t, and I’m joking. It shouldn’t be about everything. And that’s part of what’s important about insight teams.”
What can be learned is what actually can make a difference in our decision-making and, ultimately, our business results, Elisabeth continued.
“And a lot of it is trying to figure out what will tell us something new,” she said. “What will be that new lens or that new understanding that will really unlock something.”
It’s not always easy to figure that out, but when it works, it’s another step to ongoing leadership support.
Remember that before even jumping into gathering data to determine what problem you are trying to address. What do you need to find out?
“What problem are we trying to solve?” Elisabeth said. “Is there an opportunity we are trying to take advantage of? What do we know about it already? What are the questions that, if we get answers to them, will make a difference?”
Ongoing education to get the new skills needed in research
Mike says there’s plenty of tools out there today to continue learning. He recommends that researchers re-invest two to four hours per week in continuing education, which could include:
- Online courses
“It’s a reasonable benchmark to spend five to 10 percent of your time in a mix of structured and unstructured learning,” Mike said.
“For me, I have to block time on my calendar to make that work,” added Jenn. “Like three hours a week is dedicated to whether it’s education or even just scrolling through LinkedIn seeing what topics are trending. There was a time when that felt like not doing work, but it’s so important to know what is going on in the industry.”
Then use your newly-acquired skills or thought processes to drive even more results for your market research projects internally.