Through the looking glass - using client organisations to amplify research learnings

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presented to AMSRS 2012 conference in Sydney Sept 2011 - using the Alice in Wonderland theme - role of researchers in facilitating the market 'conversation' between marketers and customers, (or in getting out of the way!)

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  • To make the most of the partnership with customers all parties need preparationIf its online then pre exercises are useful for marketers and researchers as well as participantsFor example if running a co-creation exercise about jewellery – encourage the marketing team to consider their own attitudes to jewellery – what they own and what they buy for themselves and others – a very different question from what brands of jewellery they are aware of
  • The research brief is an invaluable document because it gives valuable clues about the embedded assumptions – articulating the desired task and the orthodoxyThe covert brief – hidden and emotional agendas behind a research project only emerge in face to face meetingsThe written and spoken accounts are not the sum of the information being communicated – experienced researchers pick up a lot more! This is the opportunity to agree working hypotheses – what customers are believed to think and how they behaveThis meeting can be scripted – discussion guide anybody??The Request for proposal process bypasses all of this – research is a commodity purchased to meet a price point – leaving client assumptions about the market unchallenged
  • Note taking often crucial addendum for other researchers working on the processIssue sheets can be handed out to cue observers to particularly interesting or sensitive themes so they can watch for them and capture their own reactionsIf researchers and clients are attending all the same fieldwork it raises the question how to make the most of a client perspectivePotentially the washup sessions afterwards can also be used to probe more deeply into the difference between client and participant worlds (or are they merely a prequel to the debrief?)
  • The black box of research which justifies at least a third of the cost of the project – should the marketer be admitted to this source of value creation?Can be useful if there is a hypothesis meeting particularly at the interpretation stage to answer the question – is there an appetite for implementing this finding as a recommendation
  • Insights will emerge at the debrief stage – those which (embarassingly) the research agency is not aware ofBut this will only happen if the meeting is not just a pretext for the debriefing agency to demonstrate their industry and discoveries – with the audience set to passive receive modeInsight sheets can be handed out to be completed during the presentationActions dates and owners can be assigned during the meetingThere also ought to be a capture process to pick up insights after the debrief meeting – the creative process of analysis takes days – we can’t expect all of benefits to emerge during the period of the debrief meetingWorkshops address some but not all of these issues
  • Marketing much more preoccupied with the architecture of choiceLowest common denominator messages to reach the widest audience or messaging designed to snag the audiences’ attention for as long as possible start to look like bad manners and incompetenceHow much of the customers’ attention does the marketer need?What is the role of automated behaviour – usability and how well does this work, Most marketised behaviour is automated!! If we want longer or deeper attention – is the creative device intereresting and rewarding enough?There needs to be more research around the aftertaste of a marketing intervention – how was it for you?
  • Context is one of the most important frontier territories for the research industryFor as long as anyone can remember quant and qual research pretended that context was irrelevant to the gathering of research contentNeedstates belong to contexts as much as they belong to peopleBrand centric oriented thinking denotes purchase, consumption and advocacy as the belonging times. It may be that customers feel they belong far more in other contexts. I still feel like an iphone user every time I get frustrated with my Android phone!
  • Conversations are as neglectedby keyword obsessed technologists as category thinking is set aside to consider brands as if they operated in isolation from the other brandsMap the conversations, develop the ability to detect which conversation is being had – it will enable you to identify where your brand is able to contribute (even if the brand name isn’t being constantly mentioned
  • “Focus on the little things” St David patron saint of WalesIt is the details of human behaviour which engage people – not the generalities – isn’t this one of the learnings from reality TV?The modest size of many marketing budget should be permission to zoom in on the particularities of a small audienceInsight is about somebody like me – not what everybody thinks and knows
  • A century of positivism means we privilege testimony from authenticaled witnesses and ethnographywe mistrust fiction and imagination as unreliable and self serving Fiction – the stories we tell ourselves and which we choose to inhabit are much more permanent and engaging than the branded gazebos erected over peoples heads We need to find ways to explore shared imaginative spaces
  • What are the signs that our core skills are being replaced by faster cheaper (free?) alternativesThe internet is disrupting every marketplace and market research is no different Online research isn’t the same as offline research – brands have been able to take over many tasks formerly delivered through market research
  • Through the looking glass - using client organisations to amplify research learnings

    1. 1. Through the Looking GlassHow to use client organisations as magnifiers forresearch projects (and when to get out of the way) John Griffiths Creative Director Spring Research
    2. 2. The mind of the market“A market is a dialogue between the conscious and unconsciousperceptions of those marketing products and those consumingthem” Source: Gerald Zaltman: How Customers think marketers consumers Conscious processes Unconscious processes Where does the researcher add value in this model?
    3. 3. Enough command and control – Start listening!“Research allows marketers to listen in to the conversationsbetween customers and discover how the brand can add value” Andrew Walmsley marketers customer customer Where does the researcher add value in this model?
    4. 4. What explicit value does the intermediary create?External perspectiveSpeed – bypassing the internal politicsExpertise Analysis Sampling Broader market experienceNB Providing access to respondents is no longera good enough reason!
    5. 5. The implicit value the intermediary can provide Helping to put implicit knowledge into words Seeing what the marketer can‟t or won‟t see..Because it lies in the marketer‟s unconscious – not verbalisedOr because what customers are saying conflictswith the marketing agenda
    6. 6. BIG IDEAS FOR THE MARKET CONVERSATION
    7. 7. Research once removed – client customer dating Set up pairing between individual clients and customers – provide an activity/discussion guide then researchers get out of the way!Source: Tuned in Research
    8. 8. Research once removed - Co-creation between marketing team and customers – the best place for it to happen Role of researchers to prepare and calibrate both parties – marketers own jewellery experience to match customer experience Creative „gangbangs‟ future of sport for mobiles market Stimulus as provocation – „throw content into an online community and watch how they play with it‟ Researcher as gooseberry – less is more !!
    9. 9. Conscription in the research process - Briefing meeting The research brief & the embedded assumptions The covert brief Working hypotheses Briefing meeting discussion guide The RFP process misses out on all of this
    10. 10. Conscription in the research process – Assigning roles duringfieldwork Note taking Issue sheets Washup sessions - explore the difference between client and participant worlds (or are they merely a prequel to the debrief?)
    11. 11. Conscription in the research process – Analysis stage The black box of research - should clients be invited in? Valuable to find what can be implemented. And what won‟t be.
    12. 12. Conscription in the research process – Debrief processInsights will emerge at the debrief stageThe audience needs to be actively involvedInsight sheetsActions dates and ownersCapture process to pick up insights downstream Workshops address some but not all of these issues
    13. 13. You‟ve got to know your limitations.. Prospecting for insights is like drilling for oil Even if the research agency finds it and refines it into fuel Its worth nothing if it can‟t be put into the engine of the organisation And turned into energy - momentum – that is the skill of the insight team From a conversation with Pauline Williams incite2action
    14. 14. Plannification..Account planning after 40 years – embedded worldwide across allcommunicationsIs planning making inroads into client organisations?The growth of insight departments and learning organisationsHow is plannification affecting research agencies?
    15. 15. Subverting the client organisation – Supporting decision makingDeliverables which match the agendas and learning styles of differentfunctions in the client organisationAudit trails of what has been sent to whom – how far has the knowledgereached? Source: Mesh Planning
    16. 16. Subverting the client organisation - Supporting implementationAsking for feedback –  Recommendation adopted successfully  Recommendation considered and reviewed but business case does not support change X Recommendation ignored / not consideredDeveloping ROIs for each piece of research Source: Pauline Williams
    17. 17. Subverting the client organisation - Embedding research as anappCan we turn research into apps – components in organisational processes andnot free standing elements which then have to be plugged inThe number of client customer interactions has blossomed – a potential threatto research – can research thinking inform these instead of competing withthem?
    18. 18. BIG IDEAS FOR AMPLIFYINGCUSTOMER CONVERSATIONS
    19. 19. Trending emergent behaviours – find cool things for people to do We need to research containers and content not just products and customer journeys Source: Spring Research
    20. 20. Choice architecture – make it deeper or make it quickerDesigning the architecture of choiceDeep or wide?How much attention does the marketer need?What is the role of automated behaviour?Is the creative content worth giving more attention to ?More research is needed around the aftertaste– how was it for you?
    21. 21. Understanding how context affects behaviour and content – somuch research assumes that context is irrelevant..Context is a crucial frontier territoryUntil now research has ignored contextNeedstates belong to contexts as muchas they belong to peopleCustomers feel brand connections not justwhen they are buying, consumingor advocating..
    22. 22. Identify brand friendly eco systems(where the brand does not need to speak its name)Conversations are more important than sound bites or keywordsMap the conversationsBranded friendly territory doesn‟t meanperpetual namechecking
    23. 23. Explore human microclimates (not mass markets)“Focus on the little things” St David patron saint of WalesIt is the details of human behaviour whichengage people – not the generalities –isn‟t this one of the learnings from reality TV?The modest size of many marketing budgetshould be permission to zoom in on theparticularities of a small audienceInsight is about somebody like me– not what everybody thinks and knows
    24. 24. Use fictionA century of positivism means we privilege testimony from authenticaledwitnesses and ethnographyWe mistrust fiction and imagination as unreliableand self servingFiction – the stories we tell ourselvesand which we choose to inhabitWe need to find ways to exploreshared imaginative spaces
    25. 25. Dealing with DisintermediationWhat are the signs that our core skills are challenged?The internet is disrupting every marketplace Marketers able to take over many tasks formerly delivered through market research
    26. 26. Vested research interests carrying on regardlessmarketers own camera marketers own camera Qual researchers Quant researchers 19th C portrait painters 19th C photographers
    27. 27. To paraphrase..“A human being should be ashamed to do anything acomputer can do”Joseph WeissenbaumA researcher should be ashamed to doanything a marketer can do by themselves
    28. 28. About John Griffiths John Griffiths, Creative Director John has spent more than 25 years as a researcher and planner. As planning director of MHA direct marketing and Grey Integrated he developed numerous through the line campaigns. Since 2000 he ran his own research consultancy Planning Above and Beyond during which time he won the MRS prize for Best New Thinking twice in 2004 and 2010. To date he has run research for clients such as New Look, Tesco, IHG hotels and most recently Kodak. John is responsible for product development at Spring as well as managing specific projects.

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