“I’m really not sure if and how the team is using the research.”
I’ve heard this from clients more times than I’d like to admit over the past 20 years. Yet, I’m still surprised and disheartened each time I hear it. Organizations don’t hire us and invest significantly in research only to have results sitting on a shelf collecting dust (literally, or figuratively).
When this happens, it is almost never due to the research not being insightful or not suggesting clear actions. The problem tends to be that socialization and activation were not part of the project plan created by the insights department. While internal stakeholders will ultimately determine how they will use research to drive their business, the insights department can and should spark the fire of activation.
The greatest successes we’ve seen have come when research activation plans have been put in place well before the results were delivered. In fact, for the most successful initiatives activation planning has occurred before a research partner is chosen.
The greatest successes we’ve seen have come when research activation plans have been put in place well before the results were delivered.”
Below are several key questions that can be used early on to set up your research for successful activation and integration:
1. How will the research link to business outcomes?
Start by articulating a clear linkage between research insights and successful outcomes for the business. These outcomes should relate to financial performance: acquiring customers, retaining customers, deepening relationships, etc.
2. Who are our benefactors and internal champions?
Determine the departments and individuals that stand to benefit most. Bring them in early and make them part of the planning process. It’s important to also find an advocate within the business and keep them close. Think about someone with the right personality, role, and internal connections that can help elevate the status of your work.
3. How should they use the research?
Be prescriptive and provide guidelines up front for the types of actions that can be considered. What would you do if you were them?
4. How will we build buzz?
Create a PR plan for the research. Build excitement at various key milestones pre, during, and post project. Market the work you and your team is doing.
5. How will we ensure the research has legs?
Think about ways to create multiple touchpoints with stakeholders. Can a tiered release schedule create a longer engagement and make it easier for stakeholders to act?
6. Can my research supplier help drive activation?
Suppliers that can guide clients through socialization and research activation are true partners and extensions of the insights team. This is where the value of the engagement is fully recognized.
Addressing these questions proactively before your research partner is chosen, will set the project up for success and will drive engagement with results. They will also serve as guideposts to keep the project focused on strategic outcomes through design and execution.
Want to learn more about embedding activation and socialization within your research initiative?