With all the challenges experienced over the past few months, we are now presented with an extraordinary opportunity for change.
With all the challenges experienced over the past few months, we are now presented with an extraordinary opportunity for change. As much as we have all struggled to find “workarounds” for our new reality, there are enduring lessons to be learned when it comes to our jobs and workplaces in the market research industry.
With diverse backgrounds, decades of experience, and on-the-ground expertise that runs the gamut, our Infotools team weighed in on some “dos” and “don’ts” to concentrate on right now as we seek to capture the opportunities.
DO stop doing business as usual. What? Isn’t this time all about “business continuity?” Yes and no. John Bird, our Executive Vice President of Client Development, says, “In general, stop business as usual and start listening and leveraging your inner curiosity. Market research needs to take a bigger role as there has never been a more important time to understand consumer and business sentiment.” Our role in uncovering people’s behaviors and attitudes is vital during change, so we need to step back and look at how we can best deliver critical insights and prove our value. Ron Stroeven, Executive Director of Infotools, says, “evaluate what is delivering the most value and double-down on that.” Being known as a specialist is a good thing.
DON’T take the focus off your internal team: Yes, we are talking about your employees here. We’ve all changed the way we work, which may have changed your team's dynamics and even shifted specific roles for some individuals. Janine Takle, our Head of Onboarding, says, “consider how to reallocate your internal staff who may not be able to do what they used to do. They already know your business and embrace your culture; you should uncover how they can be utilized and reassigned to something that generates value within the business.”
DO focus on digital channels: While it may feel like our hands have been forced, now is the time to beef up the online presence. Our Regional Engagement Director, Keri Vermaak says to ask yourself “How can you enhance your digital presence?” Which prospects, who may have been slow to act when contacted through alternate outreach methods, will react most favorably to digital communication? Keri says you should start quickly growing your efforts to make things easy for people to find, navigate and even purchase via digital channels.
DON’T ignore the efficiency balance: We’ve all had to tighten up our processes and our belts a little bit during the past few months. We have also had to try new ways of doing business, with staff working remotely and clients in transition. In the process, many have learned new ways to be effective. This often presents itself as a blend of internal and external resources to achieve maximum efficiency. DIY tools, already popular, have become more important as people work from various locations. Finding tools that are purpose-built for market researchers can help your internal staff become wildly efficient. Partnering with the right external vendors can keep everything running smoothly and speedily. Janine says to find the right balance among in-house resources (your employees!) and outsourced tasks. The right “techquilibrium” can allow researchers to spend more time answering questions and finding insights and less time commissioning and running research, something Ron says is more important than ever.
DO make changes to keep up with a changing consumer. John wrote a piece for the Insights Association called “Seizing the High Ground: Pivoting Tracker Studies During Times of Change.” This was a good example of how you may need to change your approach or even develop new services that are relevant for the here and now. Ron says you must “understand clients well enough to know what they want and need from you,” and this goes beyond simply what they are asking for or think they need. “Look ahead, be strategic, and think outside the box.” He also says that keeping up with consumers right now can mean adding more data sources for greater insights, which can help you tell a “far greater story.”
Even if we don’t know what news headlines we’re going to wake up to each day, we can make a few changes to our business approach that will bring us closer to our own key “stakeholders”: our employees, customers, and our consumers. We can better serve current and future insights needs by thinking past the status quo, enhancing our offerings, and finding new ways to capture the opportunity in a swiftly changing ecosystem.