As a research partner, we deliver research insights based on client needs, but the critical element of our work is distilling the research into actionable steps each team can take to meet their goals and contribute to overall brand growth. Seeing the research through the activation stage is rewarding, and it strengthens our partnership with clients.
Over the past few months, we’ve explored the best practices that support the growth activation component of our work, hosting a webinar on the topic, writing a series of blogs on activation strategies, and launching a new activation ebook that takes a deep dive into our process. While we take a custom approach to each project, we consistently incorporate core best practices that guide our work — communication, collaboration, and follow-through.
In this blog, I wanted to recap some of our best practices and approaches that we developed through discussions and experiences with our clients over many projects. While these approaches have very much been developed for individual projects, the overall framework is also based upon those 1-1 client conversations where we explored what great Activation a research supplier should be bringing to the table.
While we take a custom approach to each project, we consistently incorporate core best practices that guide our work — communication, collaboration, and follow-through.”
Great activation begins at the start of every project — not the end.
We set every project up for Activation success by offering stakeholder interviews as the first step in our process to ensure that we thoroughly understand the project. Talking with the individuals who will use strategic research means every voice is heard and builds alignment on goals and key issues across a broad range of teams. Input provides cues on how to structure communication and learning over the course of the engagement.
Interviews also help us identify areas off-the-bat where stakeholders may need additional support from our teams to carry out the research. For example, if a brand is exploring a new product and audience, we may suggest empathy training to gain perspective on their new customers and how to interact with them to achieve the best results.
Input from teams enables us to build a strong research framework.
Before diving into the research, we establish a clear project framework based on what we’ve heard from stakeholder interviews. The framework helps us bring clarity to goals so we can design research elements such as discussion guides, workshop approaches, templates for potential outcomes, and next steps.
Communication is an essential best practice throughout the engagement. Regular touchpoints with the research team and their internal stakeholders affirm that we’re meeting expectations and help us track data quality and alignment at each project milestone.
In workshops, teams begin making activation plans.
For us, especially with research solutions such as brand equity building, segmentation, customer journey and other strategic efforts, our role does not finish with the presentation of results and reports.
When the insights and reports are ready, our focus turns to the activation process. The best action plans are based on and steeped in insights. Looking Glass™ workshops are our proprietary approach to creating collaborative sessions we host with internal stakeholders to explore research insights, help them understand their implications, and begin developing activation plans. Our team devotes a lot of energy to this phase of our engagement to elevate understanding and empower teams to visualize their role in actioning on the data. It helps keep Activation true to the insights that we have uncovered, and we have heard from our clients that it also helps elevate their role with their stakeholders to move beyond insights to activation.
Storytelling is a key best practice for activation. Stories and narratives create an engaging learning atmosphere, foster quicker understanding of the research implications, and create solid references that stakeholders can access as they work on activation strategy.
As we work with individual teams, we pair their activation strategies with specific action planning to track progress over the next 6, 9, or 12 months, and schedule check-ins with teams over time to keep activation strategies moving forward. In this sense, we serve as a consulting partner to help stakeholder teams stay involved in the activation and actionability of the research.
Our process creates a sense of community around the project in which everyone has a role to play, and an invested interest in moving forward with their strategies correctly so that their actions deliver on established goals.”
During progress check-ins over time, teams can see how contributions from individuals have meaning across different functional groups, and that their efforts contribute to the brand’s overall growth opportunities.
Our approach to activation elevates our clients in terms of what each team brings to the table internally with their peers. Our process creates a sense of community around the project in which everyone has a role to play, and an invested interest in moving forward with their strategies correctly so that their actions deliver on established goals.
Without activation strategy, research findings are just a report.
Our clients have a wide range of sources they can look to for research data. They come to us for our end-to-end commitment to designing research and interpreting data with the specific objective of ensuring their investment in the research program results in growth outcomes for their brand. Our collaborative approach provides a framework for strong activation. Our commitment is to see the research in action, helping our clients achieve their goals and drive overall brand growth.
Ready to move your research into action?