There's no point in you doing any market research or customer analysis this week unless it changes something in your organisation.
Harsh? Yes, but true.
Organisations do not spend money on Customer Insight just because they are interested in consumers, but because they believe that it's the best way to improve their products, services and communications - and ultimately their business performance.
So will your research and analysis drive change if you produce brilliant work?
Probably not, or at least not on its own.
We'd all love to think that the beauty of our insights, the logic of our conclusions and the creativity demonstrated by our problem-solving will be sufficient, but it won't be. To drive change we need to devote as much time and effort to communicating insight and influencing decision-makers as we do to generating new insights in the first place.
How do successful Insight teams influence decision-makers?
Best practice is to focus on three key aspects:
- Seek first to understand: we cannot influence decision-makers unless we first understand them, their challenges, and their communication preferences
- Develop strong, trusted-adviser relationships: we are all influenced most consistently by those who we know, like and trust, at work as well as home
- Apply the science of behavioural economics: is it easy to work with the Insight team? Is it always a pleasure? Do you provide the right input to the right people at the right time?
Each of these three aspects needs proper consideration. Together they can make the difference to whether the research and analysis you produce this week will drive change within your organisation or will be buried in the graveyard of the Insight team archives.
But how can we influence decision-makers while we're all working from home?
Remote working has always thrown up particular challenges when it comes to influence, because it deprives us of the opportunity for those incidental conversations by the water cooler or the easy familiarity that comes with walking past a colleague at their desk each day.
So how can we hope to be influential when we're all working from home?
One of the lessons learned by all who work remotely is that it takes far more planning and conscious effort to get to know senior leaders and develop good working relationships with them. We cannot leave it to chance. We have to give it priority and make systematic choices, showing just as much discipline and dedication to influence as we do to our analysis and research projects.
If we don't, it's like spending hours on a Zoom or Teams call and getting frustrated when nobody listens to us. And then realising that we're on mute.
What else should we do?
Well that will be the main topic of discussion at the Insight forum on Wednesday 10th March, introduced by Lisa Dutton who leads the IMA's Transforming Insight workshop, Influence skills for Insight teams.
If you lead a corporate Insight team, and you'd like to join the 73 client-side Insight leaders who have already registered to take part, please contact me.
Please click here if you are interested in taking part in the Insight forums
Please click here to read about influence and the other secrets of successful corporate Insight teams in our new book, Transforming Insight
Please click here to read the six Insight leader guides on our website and watch my 19-minute video on this topic. Members only, and you need to be logged in
Chief Executive, IMA