SEEK AND YOU SHALL FIND

Just as a solid house re­quires good foun­da­tions, so too do clients need good in­sights to guide their busi­ness strat­egy – and their mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions. And while data is meant to be the new oil, it needs to be re­fined if you want to find the true val

New Zealand Marketing - - Chrometoaster -

Shit in, shit out. It’s a crude phrase that can be ap­plied to a num­ber of busi­ness sec­tors and it’s also true when it comes to mar­ket­ing. And at a time when data is deemed to be so cru­cial for busi­ness suc­cess, the com­pa­nies that can wran­gle it – and, im­por­tantly, use it to help guide the strat­egy – are still in de­mand, although dig­i­tal tools have al­lowed clients to ac­cess much of that data them­selves.

Speak­ing to NZ Mar­ket­ing, Andrew Lewis, man­ag­ing direc­tor TRA, con­firms that where once the is­sue was “we have no data, we don’t know what peo­ple want from us”, we now have a chal­lenge more along the lines of “we have so much data com­ing in, we can’t un­der­stand what it is peo­ple want from us".

“It is our clear view that the path to ef­fec­tive insight lies in how we ef­fec­tively cu­rate these con­stant flows of data to an­swer fun­da­men­tal busi­ness strat­egy prob­lems. Dif­fer­ent pieces of in­for­ma­tion give us some of the pic­ture, but it is only when they are com­bined and ar­ranged ef­fec­tively that we see the big pic­ture emerge; that the in­sights come into fo­cus.”

A re­cent ex­am­ple for TRA in this space would be the work it has been con­duct­ing for a fi­nan­cial ser­vices client, which takes data from sources as di­verse as cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion and brand data, me­dia spend, so­cial me­dia mon­i­tor­ing, trans­ac­tion vol­umes, EDM ex­po­sures, app us­age and prod­uct count to un­der­stand how the busi­ness makes money, how it ac­quires cus­tomers and how it re­tains them. This widescreen data mod­el­ling al­lowed TRA to iden­tify a small hand­ful of di­verse met­rics which could be mon­i­tored, and in­flu­enced via mar­ket ac­tiv­ity, to drive growth.

“In­sights are highly sub­jec­tive so you need to have con­fi­dence that the provider is ac­tu­ally equipped to con­duct the ex­er­cise,” says Rob Bree, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Re­search As­so­ci­a­tion New Zealand. “To iden­tify and en­gage the ap­pro­pri­ate re­spon­dents; to ask the right ques­tions in the right way; to utilise the ap­pro­pri­ate method­olo­gies; and to in­ter­pret the out­comes from the re­search.”

In the past, ad­ver­tis­ing agen­cies were seen as in­te­gral busi­ness part­ners and worked very closely with the client and in­flu­enced ev­ery­thing from prod­uct ranges to dis­tri­bu­tion strate­gies to ad cam­paigns. In­creas­ingly, those cre­ative agen­cies are left to fo­cus on the com­mu­ni­ca­tions, while re­search spe­cial­ists are of­ten em­ployed to un­cover the in­sights at the start of this process.

“The mar­ket has ex­panded greatly in terms of sup­ply of data in the last decade,” says Bree. “The amount of in­for­ma­tion avail­able through var­i­ous means is ex­pand­ing ev­ery day so clients have a much greater range of choices with re­spect to where and how they source their in­for­ma­tion. And bud­gets are un­der con­stant pres­sure so clients nat­u­rally want more for less. One of the down­sides of this is the avail­abil­ity of poor qual­ity, un­fil­tered in­for­ma­tion which comes with a num­ber of in­her­ent risks. In­ex­pe­ri­enced mar­keters might make the mis­take of treat­ing data as in­sights. Data re­ally needs to be sorted, qual­i­fied, fil­tered and viewed through var­i­ous lenses be­fore you can start to gen­er­ate in­sights. And that’s where the ex­per­tise comes into it.”

In an ideal world clients would build and main­tain long term re­la­tion­ships with their providers en­abling a col­lec­tive build of knowl­edge, in­sights, and shared ex­pe­ri­ences. This isn’t al­ways pos­si­ble and so hav­ing ac­cess to spe­cial­ists on a project ba­sis is the next best al­ter­na­tive. Even so, the same prin­ci­ples ap­ply and so it is prefer­able to try to build longterm re­la­tion­ships with those providers so that they are not com­ing in cold on a new project.

Per­cep­tive’s Chris Pescott be­lieves full ser­vice agen­cies have a good breadth of ex­pe­ri­ence and are a great place to re­source a brand’s strate­gic or cre­ative needs (a one-stop shop, so to

Maybe ten years ago, clients came to agen­cies like ours in or­der to get cer­tain types of in­for­ma­tion. Now the is­sue for clients is not about not hav­ing the in­for­ma­tion they need but rather it is about hav­ing too much data and be­ing able to draw insight from those var­i­ous data sources.

speak). How­ever, he con­tends full–ser­vice agen­cies of­ten can't go deep enough into a cat­e­gory or ver­ti­cal to un­cover those high value in­sights – in­sights that lead to true in­no­va­tion and mar­ket dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion. “This is largely due to lim­i­ta­tions re­lat­ing to spe­cial­ist skillsets and tech­nol­ogy, par­tic­u­larly when it comes to work­ing with large vol­umes of data, from mul­ti­ple sources and hav­ing cru­cial data se­cu­rity pro­to­cols in place,” he says.

In­deed, clients see Per­cep­tive, and sim­i­lar in­sights spe­cial­ists, as far more than a re­search com­pany. They are seen as part­ners who work hard to un­der­stand the sec­tor and add value through insight and their knowl­edge of what is hap­pen­ing in the wider mar­ket – and whether the com­pany is on the right track or needs to adapt its ap­proach.

Busi­nesses have learnt (and some are still learn­ing) that un­cov­er­ing mean­ing­ful and ac­tion­able in­sights from data re­quires a spe­cial­ist set of skills and tech­nol­ogy. Many are in­vest­ing in those kinds of skills, but they are not al­ways equipped to han­dle it – and lack the ob­jec­tiv­ity re­quired to judge it.

“The busi­nesses that choose to con­tinue try­ing to in­ter­pret the data them­selves rarely achieve the re­sults or the re­turn on in­vest­ment they were hop­ing for,” says Pescott.

To­day more and more com­pa­nies are con­cerned with re­search that un­cov­ers in­sights that em­power them to dif­fer­en­ti­ate them­selves in the mar­ket, such as cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence and new prod­uct and ser­vice devel­op­ment stud­ies. This in­volves the uni­fi­ca­tion and large data vol­umes from mul­ti­ple data sources to un­cover new op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Many cre­ative pro­cesses are still driven in­ter­nally by mar­keters and agen­cies that come up with de­signs and nar­ra­tives based on what they think will res­onate with an au­di­ence, which re­mains a hit and miss ap­proach. Cre­ative agen­cies typ­i­cally de­spise test­ing of cre­ative. But insight agen­cies, like Per­cep­tive, are us­ing their spe­cial­ist skills and tech­nol­ogy to help in­form cre­atives us­ing be­havioural and mo­ti­va­tional re­search. Pescott says the re­sult is cre­ative that res­onates and speaks to the tar­get au­di­ence, and ul­ti­mately, achieves a greater re­turn on in­vest­ment.

Kan­tar’s two agen­cies, Col­mar Brun­ton and Kan­tar TNS, of­fer the full range of insight ser­vices to ad­dress the client’s brand, mar­ket or cus­tomer is­sues. Like TRA'S Lewis, Ja­son Shoe­bridge, the CEO of New Zealand In­sights, be­lieves it's now a case of too much, rather than too lit­tle.

“The big­gest change to the use of insight and re­search agen­cies has come about through tech­nol­ogy and the ubiq­uity of data,” he says. “Maybe ten years ago, clients came to agen­cies like ours in or­der to get cer­tain types of in­for­ma­tion. Now the is­sue for clients is not about not hav­ing the in­for­ma­tion they need but rather it is about hav­ing too much data and be­ing able to draw insight from those var­i­ous data sources."

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