You Stopcock

I sat down with Paul Griffiths from to discuss the age old topic “how to elevate insights?” (click to watch). The chat confirmed to me that now, more than ever, showcasing our industry’s commercial relevance and strategic thinking is key. Why has it been playing on my mind so much recently? I think this is because during the recent lockdown spend on market research fell off a cliff, which clearly annoyed me. Clients like myself did not want to stop commissioning or pausing projects, but to me this was a knee jerk decision by insight end users and C-suiters.

Look, there is going to be another crisis around the corner (a matter of when, not if). For me, the best way to prepare is to refocus our energy on showcasing our industry’s commercial and strategic relevance to end users and C-suiters. We should truly market to them differently to the way we market to insight people – so that at the next crisis we don’t see the MR stopcock tightened.

I have been working closely with media and creative teams most of my career. There are a few thing we can learn from how the client siders and agencies in these fields operate in order to elevate their agenda.

  • Agency partners work/build rapport directly with the end user and C suiters to showcase their work and float proactive projects/ideas
  • Client-siders support their agencies proactive push for projects with end users and C-suiters by giving them feedback, contacts, and context for their ideas
  • Client siders leverage their agencies to push their own proactive ideas within their own organisations

Now, I fully understand that making comparison with creative and media agencies is not entirely fair. Spend in those is significantly higher and often there is not as much fragmentation of suppliers. However, I genuinely believe we bring equal or more value than those disciplines and therefore we should also be having as many conversations as them. Don’t get me wrong, I have seen a lot of sighing from media and creative client-siders when agencies go direct to end users with an idea, but 8/10 times the client-sider encourages that behaviour as ultimately it builds towards the same agenda.

During the recent crisis, I feel as though end users and C-suiters would have thought twice before turning the tap off on MR if we had operated a little more like these industries.

I say this because I know:

  1. Most end-users and C-suiters claim to be customer centric
  • Yet MR was the first to be dropped at the start of this crisis
  1. End users have never had a better opportunity to learn about consumers (during lockdown) (read more:
  2. Finance needed businesses to cut back
    • But market research spend is minimal comparatively

Some of our end users may argue that consumer feedback is unlikely to be representative of the long-term view and therefore spend on MR outputs is likely to be less valuable during lockdown – I call bull-shit.

We have all been frustrated in the past when our insight budget is the first to go, but this is not how it should be. I genuinely believe that client siders like myself need to ensure that they work with a select agency partner and reach out to end users and C-suiters more proactively. So that we can present proactive ideas that are grounded in commercial/strategic thinking.

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