Jackie Cutrone: Research for the sake of research and insights doesn’t cut it anymore.
We use research for product launches, marketing strategy, competitive benchmarking, and more. These are table stakes. We need to think bigger about what drives success. Now more than ever, we’re seeing enterprises have larger agendas and issues to advance.
When we do see industry changing insights, it’s usually from research and advisory organizations like Forrester and Gartner. They are packaging up research and sharing it out with an industry or particular function in the c-suite. But it’s unique to see this being done by an enterprise organization. The following story proves there’s untapped potential to make an impact beyond the walls of your organization to the industry you’re in.
Kristoffer Nelson: For many years, I’ve used research for strategic insights and newsmaking, and have often measured impact through earned media and impressions.
In some recent work I was leading, it was important to build a community around a shared idea and understanding. In order to do this, we had to know what the collective point of view was, and who was interested in connecting around the idea. Research seemed like a perfect avenue to do both.
Impressions are only the beginning. Building a community and moving an idea forward was the end goal.
We started with a question: How are third party companies thinking about scraping and what might be their interest in collectively solving it?
Almost no companies are public about their positions on data scraping, what they do about it, and their interest in working collectively on it.
One thing we did know was every company with a website or digital platform deals with it.
We wanted to understand what the collective problems were, along with everyone’s interest in working together to solve them.
We thought research could help us uncover this and be a catalyst to instigate a grass-roots approach.
The solution had three components:
Voice of the Community: Research to understand the community perspective
Report: In the research, we identified people that were interested in collectively engaging.
Communications Strategy: follow-up promotions and thought leadership plan
On that final point, we designed a research and communication strategy to understand and address the needs of the community. The research led to thought leadership and community building designed to increase awareness of anti-data scraping. One key component of this was an unbranded research report. We then augmented those findings with a communications strategy, and amplified the voice of the community in the process.
This all coalesced in the Progress-Led Insights Framework.
Step 1: Start with the goal. We didn’t set out to do research, it came as a natural extension of the strategy to achieve the goal. From the start, we knew we would need a community led effort. Our intent was not to lead this effort, but to support getting it started. In certain terms, initiating the process and then getting out of the way. There’s certainly many points of view on Meta’s motivation. We were careful to not make this the focus. Our effort was oriented towards moving the work forward.
Jackie: We do quite a bit of newsmaking research with other clients, and have worked with enough journalists and PR agencies that our strategy team understands how to provide feedback on survey design that lends itself to attention-grabbing headlines.
We knew at the core we needed to find the exact right professionals Meta had in mind. That’s where our Custom Recruiting process comes in. It combines an advanced search criteria – like Google with 40 search filters, but for professionals – with our open network of 1.1 billion professionals – and then put that through our 100% ID-verification and you have a high quality sample.
Kris:Step 2: Designing research strategy. We needed to see if the community was aligned to the issues we cared about. That’s why we wanted a huge sample in a study. Then it’s no longer our POV, it’s over a thousand industry professionals. However you may feel about Meta becomes irrelevant, now—it’s the research talking. It’s the community. Approaching the research in this way allowed for both deep personal insights and broad assessments.
Jackie: When Kris came to NewtonX, we agreed a survey with a high N would get him the certainty he needed. Something I often challenge myself on from a messaging standpoint, if we can find 1,300 of a hard-to-reach audience, is it still niche? Either way, we found 1,300 data privacy professionals that fit Meta’s criteria.
Kris: Step 3: Use Mixed Methods for deeper insights. As important insights came up in the research, we were able to go back to specific people from the survey to dig in more with expert interviews. It was an iterative process.
Jackie: We have a product called Q3 or Qual-Quant-Qual. Because everyone from NewtonX was 100% verified, we know exactly who everyone is, we could follow up with select individuals for deeper insights via expert interviews.
Kris: Step 4: Distill the findings. NewtonX helped surface themes and the most compelling insights. From these NewtonX created a whitepaper, and sent it to all 1,300 who participated in the research.
Jackie: Our experience working with PR agencies, nonprofits and enterprise orgs on newsmaking research, we understood what would be compelling insights for the press. Again, because of the 100% verified sample, as a thank you to those who participated, we were able to re-share the whitepaper.
Kris: Step 5: Tell the story. We designed a comms strategy that relayed why this is timely and important to those in this industry. This all supported driving the conversation and building the community.
Jackie: NewtonX has several strategic partnerships available to help democratize access to insights. We’re selective but can form newsmaking partnerships with enterprise organizations, publishers, agencies and communities to help raise awareness of certain issues.
Kris: We had a precise strategy and clear outcomes. There was definitely some risk here with this approach. Things went exceptionally well – I was surprised by how well this worked together with my broader program, and was thrilled with the impact it created. There was definitely a sense of magic.
With the industry, we built a credible and influential narrative that doesn’t rely on Meta driving it. We exercised creativity to work collaboratively with the community. It’s the community’s take, not Meta’s take.
As you can see, from a traditional measurement point of view, the research was a huge success. On top of this goal of moving thought leadership forward, we also built a community around it.
Jackie: Recapping – here’s how you can use research to go beyond business insights:
Newsmaker research will help you get outside the walls of your organization
Collaborate cross-functionally with your stakeholders to understand: What are their goals? How can you build that into the research?
Use the 5-step framework. Think about the goal + strategy + methodology + output + promotion.
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