As Insight leaders we all know that there is no point doing any analysis or market research unless our insights drive change in our organisations.
But we have probably spent most of our professional lives focussing on adopting new research methodologies, or improving our company’s data and ability to analyse it.
We are not communication professionals, and if we’re honest, we probably spend far more time making sure the insights are right, not worrying about how we’re going to communicate them.
When benchmarked, three out of four of the IMA’s members in the UK, Europe and North America report that their ability to generate new insights is better than their ability to disseminate them around their organisations.
So is it any wonder that most people in the companies we work for do not listen to us?
The six characters of Insight communication
If we are to share our knowledge and ideas more effectively, perhaps we need to forget that it’s usually our day job to run research projects and manage teams of analysts. We should stop thinking like Insight leaders, and start thinking like a range of other professionals:
Think like a chief marketing officer... to plan your Insight team’s programme of communication. Consider the audiences, the content, and the channels through which you can share your knowledge.
Do you show videos of customer interviews in your elevators? In your staff restaurants? At offsite meetings and in senior leaders’ presentations? Do you use gamification, postcards, posters, life-sized images of customer personas?
How professional is your Insight intranet site? Does it make people want to click on it every week and read more? Do you have a multi-channel communication strategy, or do you just stick it in PowerPoint and hope someone is listening?
Think like a consultant... we’re great fans of the SCQAB way of structuring communications.
Start each presentation with a clear statement of the Situation, the Complications which have led to the research, and the key business Questions which this raises.
Make sure you can provide joined-up Answers to those questions, and don’t forget to spell out the Benefits to the business if they adopt your ideas.
Think like an author... storytelling is all the rage in big business today, but unfortunately many storytelling workshops leave us feeling unsure how to apply the key principles back to our day jobs.
But that doesn’t mean that it’s not relevant to us. We all need to focus on a key message, and work out the most engaging way to communicate it.
Think like a journalist... spend time crafting headlines to hook your audience, use emotion and real life situations to create interest and curiosity. Does your work make an impact? Does it leave an impression?
Think like an editor... because most of what you put in your first draft deserves to be discarded. Keep it simple, use signposts and key facts, ask others to go through your work before publishing it. Because we are all poor editors of our own writing.
Think like a designer... because a picture can tell a thousand words, but only if your imagery is as simple and focused as your narrative.
Because we all love analysis and research, it can be all too easy to spend our time in the data, playing with the numbers, squeezing more and more insight out of the latest research survey.
But the role of a corporate Insight team is to identify value for its business, and drive the changes necessary to realise that value. The way we communicate our insights is actually just as important as the way we generate them, but we sometimes need to use a bit of imagination to figure out how we can get our message across.
If you would like to know more
The IMA will publish a range of 10-page Insight leader guides on the topic of Insight communication this autumn, but you don’t have to wait that long...
- On Wednesday 11th September our Insight Forum will meet in London to discuss best practice in Insight communication. All our existing Forum members have now received their invitations, but if your organisation would like to consider becoming a member we may have a few spare seats. Please email email@example.com to find out more.
- We can also provide 1-day workshops on communication planning, communication structuring, storytelling for Insight teams, and Insight visualisation. Please contact us if you think your team could benefit.
Chief Executive, IMA