Last month, we attended the Quirks Event in Brooklyn. It was our second year attending, and our CEO, Jen Drolet’s, second year speaking. This year, our partner Tara Hutton, Director of Consumer Insights for Hilton Worldwide, led an engaging presentation on the needs of today’s corporate researcher.
Today’s corporate researcher has many balls in the air, including tight timelines, multiple stakeholders, and often interdependent projects. They’re skilled artists in understanding the trifecta of time, price, and scope. Tara spoke to the fact that at Hilton, the research team is empowered to prioritize through what Hilton calls the “big rocks initiative” – the larger company goals are seen as the priority (“big rocks”), and smaller more ad-hoc initiatives (“gravel”) are universally understood to take the backseat to the initiatives that directly tie back to company goals.
Yet even at an environment as dialed and supportive as Hilton, Tara spoke to the fact that reliable research partners are an integral part of her team’s success. Specifically, Tara spoke to three key traits in research partners which influence the success of her initiatives, and the fact that she needs partners who are:
- Adaptive: Flexible in all ways, from project management to communication to deliverables. Willing to come up with creative solutions to help the client come up with creative solutions to overcome roadblocks and challenges.
- Inclusive: Allow stakeholders and other third parties (consultants, vendors, etc.) aligned with the project to participate early and often in the research process if they’d like to.
- Succinct: Communicate in a succinct manner, understanding the level of information each stakeholder needs rather than delivering superfluous information. Brief, targeted insights are required – it’s no longer acceptable to deliver a long 30+ page report to executives.
But it’s a two-way street. In order to help clients drive at their goals, research partners shouldn’t be afraid to lean on their clients in a few key areas that will help them both succeed. Jen spoke to the fact that partners should ask clients to be:
- Informative: What can you tell us, share with us, etc. to help us be more successful? Do you have results from a previous brand tracker that would lend insight to this initiative? Did you just mine your social network and uncover information about the audience we’re targeting? Sharing previous findings will allow us to take the current initiative that much further for you.
- Open: Let us know what you’re planning to do with this research. Who are your stakeholders? Is this a stand-alone project, or does it fit into a larger initiative? This will ensure we meet the needs of stakeholders and deliver the appropriate information in the most impactful format.
- Available: We’re more than happy to help our clients in the face of tight timelines, hard-to-reach audiences, etc., but that requires communication!
Tara and Jen brought this relationship to life through a case study, in which iModerate provided the initial messaging testing for a campaign to increase direct-booking through Hilton and shift perceptions of online travel agencies.
This is an exciting time to be in research – with leadership paying more attention to customer experience than ever before, the research team is often viewed as the customer advocate within the organization. Building a bench of partners which corporate researchers can rely on all of the time, but in particular when things get busy, is essential in order to thrive. What characteristics do you look for in your research partners? What do you require from your clients? Leave a comment – we’d love to hear your thoughts and continue the dialogue!