5 Tips to support marketing the best way possible with insights

support marketing with insights

5 Tips to support marketing the best way possible with insights

When both insights and marketing work together effectively, everyone benefits. But it’s not always easy to get there. Here's five ways to be a better insights partner to your marketing team, straight from PepsiCo's Global CMO.

For any great partnership to work, both parties need an empathetic understanding of each other’s wants, needs and general perspectives on life. Without this understanding, you’ll end up with a relationship drenched in confusion, animosity or resentment. (Think about a marriage: both spouses need to understand where the other is coming from, otherwise they’ll end up assuming ill intent whenever they’re not on the same page!)

One great partnership you find in large organizations is the one between insights and marketing. These teams work hand-in-hand to grow great brands and serve customer needs. When both insights and marketing are working together effectively, everyone benefits (especially the consumer).

As someone in an insights role, consider your own relationship with your marketing counterparts. Is there room for improvement there?

At this year’s Virtual Insight Summit, Zappi President Ryan Barry sat down with PepsiCo’s Global CMO, Jennifer Saenz. (Jennifer is also the President of Pepsi’s food business. Rather than complaining about how she’s extremely busy with two full-time jobs, Jennifer claims both roles balance her and make her better overall!)

A lot of great tips about how insights can be a better partner to marketing came out of that conversation. Let’s dive into them here!

1. Know the basics of marketing

"It can be dangerous as you get pulled toward new technologies, you almost forget the basics…It’s a lot harder to get those technologies to work for you if you forget the 'why' behind what you want to achieve."

As an insights professional, you probably know a lot about data analysis, system 1 and system 2 thinking, qual and quant research methodologies, and so much more. But are you familiar with the basics of marketing that your marketing counterparts live every day? Trends come and go, but the basics don’t change.

What is the marketing team responsible for day-to-day? What are they trying to accomplish? What tools do they use? How are they measured? Having the answers to these questions is an important first step to being a better insights partner with marketing — or anyone, really.

Jennifer recommends reading the book How Brands Grow by Byron Sharp (which we’re also strong proponents of at Zappi!) to learn more about the challenges marketers are facing and the levers they can pull to make an impact.

We would also recommend just having a conversation with your marketing partners, if you haven’t already done so. You can learn a lot about someone’s world by just opening up that dialogue.

2. Translate knowledge for impact

“I think the best insights partner is focused on helping us make sure that the knowledge we’re creating is really intended to create an impact. That’s the most important thing the insights partner can bring.”

Jennifer cautions that you never want to get into the habit of creating knowledge for the sake of it. The best insights partners are those who can translate knowledge for impact.

Any information that makes someone respond with “ok, that’s cool” is not really effective. But data that makes your audience sit up and say “wow, we need to do X now!” — that’s the dream. That’s how you know you’ve really made an impact with your work.

It’s up to you to translate what you’ve learned in your research into a form someone can use. Because everyone is busy and no one is suffering from a shortage of data. Give your stakeholders the SO WHAT from your data so they won’t miss it.

Give some thought to your insights career. How many times do you feel like someone was able to immediately identify the actions they should take based on research you shared? How many “holy shit” moments have you been responsible for? If that number isn’t as high as you’d like, take a few extra moments each time you deliver results to think about the SO WHAT. How can you synthesize your learnings so the person consuming them knows exactly what they need to do next?

When you can do that every time you deliver insights (and do it quickly, as Jennifer notes that the time it takes to go from data to action is compressing all the time), you’ll make a big impact on your organization.

3. Democratize insights

“When you can democratize that information and understanding, all of a sudden the amount of impact you can make increases because so many people have access to it.”

Ultimately, it’s up to you to make sure the right people have access to the right data to make the right decisions.

“Democratization” of data is a bit of a buzzword, one that can evoke strong emotions from insights professionals. But it really just means making data available to as many people as possible. When you democratize insights, suddenly every marketer has the benefit of that data right at their fingertips whenever they need it. It can significantly grow the impact of your work.

This is, of course, easier said than done. PepsiCo has invested in this area because it’s important to both insights and marketing teams. PepsiCo built an internal tool that gives everyone access to customer data and standardized research methods. While a lot of work went into this, Jennifer says that it has certainly been worth it because:

  1. With standardized tools and a common language to use, PepsiCo has more effective cross-functional conversations

  2. The work that the marketing and insights teams are doing now has greater visibility and credibility within the company

  3. PepsiCo’s marketing is getting better and better!

4. Reflect back to move forward

“If you're testing to just get to ‘yes,’ you're only looking forward. But if you're testing to learn, you are taking a moment to be reflective, understand the ‘why’ behind it, and then take that ‘why’ and pour it into all the work you do moving forward. It's a very different mindset when you're testing to learn versus testing to ‘check the box.’”

For too long, insights teams have been tasked with “checking a box” or assigning a grade to an idea at some point in the development process. They give marketers a red or green light and move onto the next project.

Those days are long gone.

Jennifer’s view is that you do the work to uncover whether you should move forward with an idea, but that’s just the start. You need to regularly reflect backwards to learn as you go. Reflecting backwards can help your business lean more into what it has done well and improve what it hasn’t done well. In other words, you can use what you’ve learned in the past to affect decisions in the future.

You can always just answer the questions you’re asked (like, will consumers like this ad?) but you’ll take your partnership to the next level if you can always provide the WHY behind that answer (why do consumers like this ad?) and look at how those trends are evolving over time to predict the future.

Jennifer notes that this requires a different mindset. It reflects a shift in the role of insights from order taker to true strategic partner. And isn’t that what we’re all aiming for?

5. Act as an owner of your company

“If you see an outage, you have to speak up. You have to share that with people. I wouldn’t hold it in and let it fester. Because you can make an impact.”

It’s easy to feel like your voice doesn’t matter in a big organization. That one person can’t affect change. So if you see something that could be improved (what Jennifer calls an “outage”), it may feel like it’s not worth it to try to do something about it.

But Jennifer vehemently disagrees with that idea. She suggests you act like an owner of your company and call something out when you see it (this was actually a common refrain in our lineup of C-level feature speakers).

You have a unique perspective that executives in your company don’t have, and they often won’t know there’s a problem or opportunity unless it’s brought to their attention.

Jennifer recommends not just calling something out, but also looking a step or two ahead. You may not have the ability to solve the problem on your own, but what steps can you take to address it? What recommendations can you offer? Be a part of that solution.

Final thoughts

At the end of the day, you’ll be a better insights partner to marketers if you help marketing do their job better. Work together to make your marketing stronger. That’s really what all of these points come down to.

Author: Katie Sweet

Source: Zappi