Editor’s Note: Today we start another ongoing series of posts taken from a book: The Insights Advantage: knowing how to win by Dr. Marco Vriens of The Modellers. It’s been my great pleasure to get to know Marco over the past few weeks and to read this wonderful book. In a clear and straight-forward manner, Marco directly ties the importance of the insight function, advanced analytics, and real business actionability together as a process. His step-by-step approach to defining the problem and presenting the solution oath is elegant and impactful. I’m thrilled that Marco has chosen to serialize part of his book here on GreenBook Blog and I think you will be too. Enjoy!
By Marco Vriens
In my new book The Insights Advantage: knowing how to win (2012) I discuss how firms can adopt an approach that leads to more and better insights and will lead to more insights-driven decisions. This is the first of a series of blogs that will summarize selected topics out of the book or additional thoughts on the topic of the book: how to win with insights. Despite the huge investments in marketing research and analytics many executives still rely heavily on gut-feel. One study found that 40 percent of major decisions are based not on facts or insights but on the manager’s gut. If that is true, then the percentage of “minor” or “less major” decisions based on gut feeling is likely to be a lot higher. There are four reasons why executives still rely on gut feel.
First, there is a general feeling of dissatisfaction with what marketing research is delivering. Executives complain about too much data but too few actionable insights, insights that are too limited or that are not compelling enough.
Second, the producers of insights complain about the lack of willingness on the part of the executives to act on the insights. Insights may be available but not used, decisions are being made and executives look post-decision for insights that confirm their decision, or insights are being requested but then not used.
Third, for many decisions there is just not enough time and money to do a research or analytics project. Hence decision-makers need to rely on gut feel, or other heuristics to help them make these decisions (e.g. analog thinking). Such heuristics carry a high risk of leading to sub-optimal and often wrong decisions.
Fourth, most marketing research departments tend to focus their work on marketing, often roughly around product development (e.g. identifying unmet needs, concept testing, feature optimization, etc.) or go-to-market topics (e.g. message optimization, brand tracking, customer satisfaction, etc.). Instead, one could cast the net much wider by allowing insights to be discovered around foundational ways that could lead to better business performance: avoiding mistakes, early warning signals, increasing efficiency, growing market share or revenue and gaining a competitive advantage.
We need to think differently about what we are trying to achieve in marketing research, what the problems are we are trying to solve and how to do it. This means different processes and different tools for insights discovery and insights adoption. In my forthcoming blogs I will discuss the what and the why of some of these tools and processed, including a process for discovering more and better insights, reasons why we need advanced analytics, and an approach and process for insights adoption and acceptance.