Selling the concept of insight

If you walk into a greengrocer’s, you know fairly well what you can buy there and what you can do with it once you’ve taken it home.

We all understand the 'concept' of a greengrocer.

However, this becomes slightly harder when selling abstract business concepts such as insight and the need for insight management.

If, for instance, a colleague walks into your 'insight shop', will they understand it in the same way that they’d understand a greengrocer? In fact, how many would actually walk in? What would they expect to find if they did? And what would they expect to be able to do with it in relation to their role within the business?

Is this an unfair comparison? After all, we all need food, but do all organisations need insight?

Think of it this way: how many organisations successfully ‘fly blind’ in terms of understanding their market? It’s a blatant contradiction. So, organisations realise that they need insight. However, there’s a need to turn the perception of the insight ‘stall’ from a car-boot jumble of random facts (which take too much hard work to sort through) to a clear and well laid-out view of the 'big picture'. That's insight management.

Raising awareness of Insight

First impressions count, particularly with the increasing mobility of personnel. If you make a good first impression, you’re on your way to becoming the stakeholder's first port of call. So it makes sense to make contact with people at an early stage, when they first start their new job within your organisation.

The best way to raise awareness of the Insight role and to show the possibilities to potential users is to ensure that your team is involved in any induction sessions that your company runs for new staff. So, think about how well-placed you are to set out your stall. Don't assume that people arrive having already bought into the idea of having an internal Insight team and are keen to rush to your door. Instead, you can initiate the 'Aha' moment for them so that you remain ‘top of mind’ for future work.

As a starter for ten, make sure that your team is good at:

  • Keeping an eye out for new people. Introduce yourself informally to new recruits in roles that should interface well with your Insight team.
  • Developing and maintaining an Insight Credentials brochure. This should outline what you do; the information available and how to access it; and key names and contact details.
  • Ensuring that any induction material is followed up. You will need to offer further training and information, particularly for key insight users. This could typically include:
    • A Masterclass programme of Insight days or seminars. Look at the market, consumer trends and specific brands, perhaps for half a day, with guest speakers and compulsory attendance for Marketing team members!
    • Arranging visits to observe fieldwork or target market consumers. These will help your Marketing colleagues to experience the research process and the real world, so that they become more realistic in their research requests.
    • Holding regular Marketing and Insight meetings. Share experience, skills and best practices.
    • Putting together other awareness exercises. e.g. Brand Planning Days; insight guides for internal circulation; insight articles in internal newsletters etc.

Practical implications

So why will this help?

The above list might sound labour-intensive, particularly as it’s a continuous task, so why dedicate resources to it?

Introducing insight at an early stage (and then reinforcing awareness) helps to:

  • Establish the ground rules - for example, the need to involve you at an earlier stage. Show them that you can add much more value if you understand the business issues, rather than simply providing a research and information service. Promote your team as a proactive business partner, rather than a research or information provider.
  • Enhance planning, as you’re able to encourage colleagues to reduce the number of late and impractical requests for pieces of work. If they’re aware of the practicalities of fieldwork, they should be less likely to demand over-complicated questionnaires (and to keep adding to the project brief after it’s been delivered).
  • Improve understanding that quality can be damaged by rushed or badly managed projects.
  • Raise awareness of previous work: if new people know what’s been done already (and where to find it), there’s no need to keep reinventing the wheel.