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simple ways of making insight the lead catalyst for change in your business

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STOP LOOKING FOR INSIGHTS

Why stop looking for insights? It’s not that we don’t value insights; we believe insights, and those who uncover them, should be the lead catalysts for change in any business. And change is essential, as businesses pursue increasingly aggressive growth targets while facing evolving models of brand building, disruptive technologies and shifts in consumer attitudes and behaviour that happen over a matter of years, not generations. Behaviours, trends and reputations are fluid and the rules of the game are seemingly constantly rewritten.

Fact-based insights should be the external force that jolts people out of their ‘trance’ and shocks / inspires / frightens / excites them into change. It may be true that decision makers hear all kinds of opinions on change and get pitched to on a regular basis by individuals with a range of vested interests, but fact-based insights, delivered by insight teams with no ‘axe to grind’ have a rare and much-needed objectivity; a grounding in truth that can make them both persuasive and hard to ignore.

In this ever shifting landscape, brands that stand still are punished like never before, whilst those driving the change agenda in their categories and markets are reaping the rewards. But for the majority of brands, working out how to change is a challenge in and of itself.

The real potential for insights however is often laid to waste. Too much energy and effort goes into discovering them, crafting them, even categorising and filing them away for future use - before going out again to fulfil the unquenchable thirst for ‘more’. We need to spend less time looking for insights, and more time making sure the ones we have already found are getting the focus they deserve and are really setting the agenda for change. Here are some very simple but effective ways that we have been doing this.

Newton’s first law of motion states that an object in motion “moves at a constant velocity, unless acted upon by an external force”. People and organisations can be very much the same, with today’s ways of thinking and patterns of behaviour being shaped by what has gone before. After all, true change - the kind that fundamentally impacts the future of the business - can be the more challenging, time consuming and even unpopular path to take.

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STOP LOOKING FOR INSIGHTS

1.

Push it to the

max

Insights should point towards how we unlock future potential, but have we always worked through the full commercial implications of the insights we uncover? We should be as relentless in the way we keep asking ‘so what?’ as we are when we are asking ‘why?’. This means reaching out to different internal audiences to explore implications from different perspectives – the consumer, the brand, competitive, retail, technical and financial. It is only when insights harness these disparate perspectives of the business that they can drive change within. And we need to push each thought and implication as far we can, exploring the extremes. It is easy to become de-sensitised to issues when you are faced with them on an almost a daily basis, to accept them without questioning what they might mean. By painting a picture of the ‘nuclear option’, the more extreme scenario, we can encourage people to re-evaluate what might be possible.

We need to push each thought and implication as far as we can, exploring the extremes

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STOP LOOKING FOR INSIGHTS

2.

Show me the

money It’s a simple enough point, but it works. Nothing makes the conceptual feel more tangible than assigning a dollar value to it. Whatever the insight, try and put a financial value on what’s at stake, either the size of the prize of success or the cost of losing. Change can feel risky. We have to overcome this by making the consequences of not acting so real they can’t be ignored. Sometimes the raw figure is enough, but we can also give it: • a sense of impact: “That’s three times the annual profit from all the other markets put together” • a sense of competitiveness: “That would give us double the profit of any other brand in the business” • or even make it more personal: “That’s all our personal targets achieved, in one opportunity.”

Nothing makes the conceptual feel more tangible than assigning a dollar value to it

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STOP LOOKING FOR INSIGHTS

3.

Stolen futures

It’s motivating to know there is an opportunity out there, but what if another company beats you to it? There’s nothing worse than watching a competitor walk off with the prize, particularly when all too often the same idea, or something similar, has been sitting somewhere in your own business for years in development. And what if this new idea lets a new player into the market, someone who can re-define the category and change the game before you can? Bringing these ‘stolen futures’ to life can create an emotive call to action just as powerful, if not more so, than appealing solely to the rational mind. Try creating a documentary style film, set in the future, where actors playing senior competitor roles talk about how they revolutionised your category. That’s guaranteed to get a reaction.

There’s nothing worse than watching a competitor walk off with the prize

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STOP LOOKING FOR INSIGHTS

4.

Cautionary

tales An alternative to looking to the future is making connections to the past. By drawing parallels between our own situation and brands facing similar challenges we can begin to dramatise the role insights can play in making the right change happen. In retrospect the choices facing companies like Nokia, Kodak, Blockbuster and Blackberry can seem simple and obvious. But at the time they would have felt far from it, particularly when it came to questions not about whether to change, but how and when. By linking our own situation to choices faced by other businesses and brands we can enrich our insights with models that give some clear direction into what, and what not, to do. It’s all about moments of truth, the moments where the choices brands make define them – as winners or losers – for years to come. Fact-based insights need to be there driving these decisions.

It’s all about moments of truth, the moments where the choices brands make define them – as winners or losers – for years to come pg. 5


STOP LOOKING FOR INSIGHTS

5.

Walk the

path

The key to all of these and other ways of galvanising change is going beyond presenting insights and, instead, doing all we can to make them real and tangible for people. We want to provoke and galvanise change and we have the power of storytelling and all manner of multimedia tools at our disposal to help us to do this. But beyond this there is nothing better than getting people to experience what you are saying for themselves. To live, even if for a moment, that future change and imagine it as real. Any face-to-face meeting is a chance to create an experience, so use stimulus, use props, experiment with venues and get people out into the world; whatever it takes to internalise these insights and make them personally relevant.

The key to all of these and other ways of galvanising change is going beyond presenting insights and, instead, doing all we can to make them real and tangible

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STOP LOOKING FOR INSIGHTS

It takes a real shift in mindset from finding insights to unlocking their potential to drive change, and a broader set of commercial, creative and communication-based skill-sets to make it happen. But when it all comes together the impact on your business will be fundamental - and it’s quite a buzz. Surely that’s reason enough to stop looking for insights. Mash is a Strategy Studio based in the heart of Soho, London working with global companies including Unilever, Samsung, SABMiller, Paddy Power and Bacardi. We create insightful and tangible brand thinking that provokes reaction and inspires change. If you would like to have a chat about how we can help your business or brand then call us on +44 20 3176 2462 or drop us an email. Jonathan Williams jonathanw@mash.uk.com Conrad Persons conradp@mash.uk.com Emma Sant emmas@mash.uk.com Kate Jones katej@mash.uk.com Jonathan Hills jonathanh@mash.uk.com

Stop looking for insights  

5 simple ways of making insight the lead catalyst for change in your business

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