As the new year unfolds, let us think ahead a little bit. Imagine it is 2025. Or even 2023. You are choosing your insights team. Much as I hate to predict, I bet the skills you will be looking for to advance your agency or build your team will be considerably different from those of ten years ago. You’ll be looking for skills in influence and impact. You’ll want a diverse team that is tech-forward and business savvy. But above all, you’ll want a team of strong communicators and storytellers. These communicators will be the future of your next insights team.
I’d argue this is for two reasons. The first is that as anyone who has worked in communication knows that to communicate well, you must know your audience. While simple, this rule of communicating is so often ignored in insights that it is worth restating a thousand times. The irony is that despite the very purpose of market research being to help companies and brands understand their audiences, this rule is very seldom applied to the development and communication of insights themselves. Indeed, the design of the right research depends on the insights team understanding its purpose for the organisation, and how it will be used by stakeholders. But it is a rare insights client who comes to us with a clear, deep, and defined understanding of those stakeholders it wants to influence; seldom has the client performed any research on them or even identified who they are.
As for the second reason insights teams need strong communicators: We need to be completely flexible in how we communicate. If we apply the ‘know thy audience’ rule as outlined above, then de facto we must have the skills to communicate different projects, ideas, or our purpose in a way that is appropriate and relevant for our different audiences. These skills will advance the insights you’re presenting and the whole team or agency.
Good communicators know how to apply their stories using different tools, from web and email marketing to video editing and animation. These skills will increase efficiency and make each minute worked more valuable. Plus, focusing on communicators will mean skills can be transferred to existing employees, so efficiency in communicating will be transferred across your team or agency.
The best ways to succeed in 2022 and beyond? Remember to define and communicate your purpose, upskill, and invest.