Market research is an essential tool in developing and differentiating brands and services But the research business is rapidly being disrupted by the encroachment of SaaS competitors, emerging methodologies, lower pricing and easier consumer access.
Change creates opportunity
The insights industry is clearly at a crossroads. We know that while disruption poses threats to business models, it also creates opportunity. The research and insights function has the opportunity to grow, though it must transform itself to thrive by improving communications, positioning and sales processes to demonstrate its organizational value. Therefore, we need to rethink the paradigm of the 150-slide Power Point data dump. Instead, brand stewards should focus on delivering compelling, contextualized, clearly elucidated and actionable insights that inspire rather than provoke. To be all those things, our work must tell a story.
To tell better stories researchers and marketers must optimize it use of media by thinking differently about delivery formats. These three paths to can begin your journey.
1. Think differently about presentations
Too many research presentations employ a narrative structure that focuses on the process, rather than the objectives of the research. A preferable approach is to focus on key objectives, putting calls to action, and takeaways, front and center. With a narrative approach, a deck might include a table of contents and a topline of insights followed by pages of dense data. In contrast, a deck with an objective-based structure outlines objectives and relevant insights/solutions. A well-crafted, objective-based deck organizes and curates data in support of those points as succinctly as possible.
2. Think differently about video
Brand stewards should consider how video formats are calibrated to the nature of the research messaging. Relevant formats to consider, include: movie trailers and documentary films. The choice should depend on what type of message is to be delivered. If it is a sales message, you want to inspire action and a movie trailer style may be preferable. That would ideally be quite short (:60 or less), with quick cut editing, dramatic music, and much less data and text. Alternatively, when you want to inform, a documentary style may be optimal.
On a completely separate note, one underutilized tool is sprinkling in video clips with actual consumer insights sessions. One method to consider is short excerpts of 1-2 minutes that bolster key points, problems to overcome, and opportunities. These video clips should be well edited, with a strong narrative structure. And, if you can capture actual footage from consumer sessions, it will enhance the impact of your videos.
3. Think differently about experience
Experiences are the other main distribution channel for research/insights. While share-out events are important, insight professionals often give short shrift to the experience and audience profile. One should experiment in both areas to maximize learnings and maintain audience attention. To heighten the experience, a variety of formats should be explored, whether styles of presentation, event formats, or otherwise. Brands might consider using actors to pose as target consumers, or feature articulate, charismatic consumers themselves.
It’s worth the effort to explore new event formats, such as live, “fishbowl” style events, in which consumers sit on a panel in real time, along with business people; then have the audience and speakers swap places. Unfortunately, when it comes to telling stories, we often neglect the consumers of our work. Oftentimes research socialization events have different audiences. Whether marketing, senior management, strategy/insights, sales or other constituencies, each event should be formatted and experiences calibrated to the motivations and level of knowledge of each audience.
As the market research industry continues to be challenged by disruptive business models and ever evolving consumer habits, presentations must change in profound ways. We must continue to improve our ability to communicate, to strategically position, and sell our work. To succeed, we must optimize media formats that communicate our deliverables and the marketing stories we tell.
About the Author
Kory Grushka is the founder of Stories Company, a creative agency that helps business leaders tell critical stories through presentations, video/animation, infographics and dashboards, among other tools. Kory is a creative director, strategist, business development executive and former corporate lawyer. He has extensive experience in a variety of industries, having managed brand strategy, innovation and design projects for Fortune 500 companies ranging from CPG to technology.
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