With an increasing focus on evidence based decision making in this digital age information, few pundits still question the need to inform business decisions, marketing strategy, product development and CRM with robust data insights.

The penny has well and truly dropped – leveraging research insights and getting a more intimate understanding of the market (even scaling down to a one to one relationship) is the only way to gain comparative advantage in an increasingly competitive market landscape. However, many find that completing discrete pieces of research work is not effectively driving the actionable insight, organisational change and growth their organisation seeks.

In this two part blog I would like to take a closer look at the importance of keeping our eyes on the prize and how we can best get there.

The penny has dropped but who is picking it up?

There is a fundamental disconnect evident between researchers and those implementing research insights – a big problem when we consider each role is rendered obsolete without the effective operation of the other. Many marketers and researchers alike fail to fully grasp the difference between data, insight and actionable intelligence – they are not interchangeable terms and they are all required to make effective use of marketing intelligence.

What’s infinitely more important than data itself – especially as it becomes increasingly accessible – is how effectively you actually use the information that is available to you.

Market research is the key to efficiently pleasing more of your customers more of the time, with limited resources, in an environment of increasing market competition to own the customer relationship. It’s about having the right conversations, with the right people, at the right time. However, this won’t work by just ticking a box by spending allotted research budgets, walking away with an expensive doorstopper (i.e. ‘the report’) and then expecting change to occur.

Market research has been traditionally preoccupied with its own analytical methods rather than how it can be put into practice within the wider marketing context and effectively applied in CRM systems. This has isolated and limited its value.

Research is but a means to an end – and this end is implementation. The process is not static and must evolve with continuous feedback loops that assess interventions and tweak responses i.e. “rinse and repeat”. This needs to be a tight loop that seeks to shift the dial towards proactive rather than reactive. This is not just about informing marketing strategy and product development – it also requires implementation throughout the organisation down to the customer facing coal face.

We like to think of this process as “Action Research” – this requires a steady focus on outcomes and understanding of the capacity of the target organisation to implement findings. The success of the research is then judged on its ability to provide pragmatic actionable intelligence – and ultimately the organisation’s ability to implement these on the ground. Implementation utility is the key to success.

Part 2 of this blog (titled -Rinse and Repeat) will endeavour to further unpack how we best get there.