Insights from Diageo, Under Armour, DeBeers and The Economist on choosing their insight partners.
There isn’t an app for clients to swipe to find their perfect insight partner. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t get noticed. At IIEX Amsterdam, Colonel Mustard Lucy Davison led a dynamic panel discussion about how end clients find and engage with new insight partners. Panellists, including Efrain Rosario, Head of Global Futures and Shopper Planning at Diageo, Diana Mitkov, Senior Management of Demand Insights and Analysis at De Beers, Helen Devine, UX Research Manager for The Economist Group, and Marion Hoek-Koudenburg, Director of Consumer Insights and Capability at Under Armour, shared their experience and about the best way to engage with them.
Here’s how you can win their hearts.
Communication is key
‘Emails are a big issue, don’t assume that everyone wants to hear what you have to say and particularly don’t send emails asking for an appointment next week… I get forty of those a day’ says Marion Hoek-Koudenburg.
The simplicity of an email seems like an easy way to get around the sweaty palms and awkward silences of a face-to-face or telephone interaction. However, a generic, unsolicited email or an automatic meeting request is also a good way to end up ignored or discarded into the trash folder. All panellists agreed that crowding the inbox, is no way to showcase your individuality.
What they recommended instead, is to attend IRL forums like IIEX and ESOMAR as there are ‘a lot of suppliers in one place, and I can go around and find out what people are doing’. Talking openly with others at events about your work is a way to not only get your face out there but is a way to connect with colleagues in your field as a human as well as a professional.
Another key channel cited by the panel is podcasts. End clients like to tune in in their own time and keep up to speed with what agencies have to offer without having to scroll through an unwanted email or read a lengthy article.
Facts speak louder than words
Even before you’ve secured that “first date”, it’s important to think about what makes you different from everyone else out there. Don’t offer up a laundry list of services but demonstrate what sets you apart, then build on that to generate trust and credibility for a successful partnership. As Efrain Rosario at Diageo states ‘Anytime an agency comes to me with a tangible use case where they’ve applied for someone else’ it’s hard to not hear ‘look this is the kind of tangible value we can get by doing this kind of work’ (click here for our article on best practice for case studies). Showcase what makes you different: your thinking, a point of view or philosophy, the real impact you helped a client achieve, and the experience you have under your belt.
No one likes a catfish
All our panellist agreed that ‘word of mouth is one of the most important ways to find out about working with someone new’ – so we cannot overstress how important a good reputation is.
It’s important to be aware of the risks companies take when bringing on board a new partner, which is why it’s so imperative to practice accountability and openness when working. You are who you are – so be true to yourself. Agencies that provide honest reflections on their own skills and limitations, that don’t pretend to be anything other than what they are, start the relationship off in the right way for both parties.
Experience is key
Of course, if we are talking about reputation, you must deliver top-quality work every time, to make yourself stand out from the sea of other firms. A good insights partner needs to know what it means to run a marathon, not a sprint. The brands on our panel look for partners that can identify touchpoints throughout the consumer journey and use them to optimise their research for growth. To do this you need to think broadly and know where you fit in. Our panellist said they are looking for agencies who can ‘crunch data and whenever we have access to bigger data sets, they can extract the most out of it’. These suppliers are sought out for their ability to use statistical methods, analyse data, and identify trends and patterns that can inform strategies and produce long-term success.
On top of broader business analysis skills, the clients on our panel also seek insight partners who have a solid qualitative understanding of consumer attitudes, behaviours, and drivers. In an internet-driven world, consumers can access more brand options than ever, so an in-depth picture of wider consumer behaviour beyond the brief, is needed.
A cheap date?
End clients are also feeling the pinch, one of the panellists has ‘been asked to cut a third of my budget’. Maintaining a strong partnership and team spirit is crucial when times get tough. By working together through experimentation, leveraging pre-existing information, or conducting a pilot project, insight partnerships can form to establish effective collaboration practices and build strong relationships that last.
It’s not always love at first sight, and getting noticed in a busy crowd can seem daunting. But by communicating your strength effectively and using the right channels to reach your prospects, you can ensure clients will swipe right!