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Research Minimalism

by James Needham

3 min read

Just because you can research it doesn't mean you should. Why less is more.

“What we got here is a little game of show and tell. You don’t wanna show me nothing but you’re telling me everything.” Vincenzo Coccotti, True Romance

Ever been in a brand research debrief that’s all sizzle and no sausage?

100’s of customer data points. Drowning in “whats” but not a “why” in sight.

There’s too much theoretical and unused research gathering server dust in businesses and it needs to stop.

So here’s a challenge.

You can only use three research approaches to understand your customers and navigate your brand world, what do you choose?

1) Know your lovers and haters. Now, near and always.

NPS is a solid quant and qual measure to assess brand health now (think Qantas’ last few months), near, (think competitive benchmarks against close proximity brands you want to steal share from) and always, (think Apple’s 10+ year brand equity scores).

Track one or all of these and you’ll have a more privileged understanding of your customers today and tomorrow.

2) Do power qual dips and strengthen your weak spots.

As simple as a handful groups every quarter, qual can help define and strengthen areas that are preventing current or future customers from choosing, using and staying with you. Often your NPS data or tracking quirks can be a good guide as to where to start.

Agree on your blind spots. Distil into a tight discussion guide and explore in open conversation – report back in a pragmatic, tangible way to help shape your marketing strategy.

It’s also an opportunity to explore new concepts and test assumptions that might be holding the business back.

Either way, knowing your customers better than your competition is a super-power.

3) Reboot your brand tracker.

Firstly. You should have a brand tracker or you’re flying blind.

Secondly, what % of your brand tracking data is recalled a week after it was presented, let alone ever used?

Trackers are notoriously blunt, retrospective number caves that create an echo chamber of their own making.

They tell us everything and nothing at the same time.

Audit the approach.

How much of it lies dormant today? What elements are still relevant? What don’t you track that you should? What areas need augmenting or modernising against the world today?

Start with what you know, what you don’t know and what you need to know.

That’s it. A little more tell, a little less show.

Need help? Let’s chat.

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James Needham

→ Over 20 years experience across APAC and the UK helping redefine some of the world’s most iconic and effective brands, and leading complex research and segmentation projects from Budget Direct, Big4, Crime Stoppers, RACV and CommBank.

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