Communications that are hard to sleep after
20 Oct 2011|Added Value
When we saw Lucy Davison’s presentation on the importance of good communication at the 2011 Annual Esomar Congress, we understood the issue, as it is important to communicate well, both as a team and with our clients. So we invited Lucy to present her paper to our Parisian team and before the meeting we sat down with her to get her views on communications today.
Q – With all the tools at our disposal (internet, TV, Social media…), you would believe that we, market researchers, provide impact on our clients business. Is that the case?
Lucy Davison – Tragically, I don’t think it is the case. It is what motivated me to do this recent ESOMAR paper in the first place. I’ve been working in research for twelve years now because I think research really can make a difference but at the same time I don’t think we are changing fast enough. In the last few years with this enormous explosion of the amazing use of data and information on the internet, people can now at the touch of a button expect to be entertained. Client speaker at ESOMAR Congress 2011, Lorna Walters from Reckitt Benckiser, shared unimpressive research she had been presented with by her research agencies: complicated charts just delivering the data, not telling the story and not thinking about the audience being targeted or the best way to communicate. I think communication is actually getting worse in our business.
Q – How do you define communication?
Lucy Davison – In the broadest sense, it is all the interactions researchers have with their clients and/or their internal stakeholders, how they deliver the insights and information they are getting, for an agency it is also how they communicate by their website, in the media, how it uses its brand…
Q– Why is it important for a researcher to master communications?
Lucy Davison – Because communication is the product! To make a parallel, a manufacturer of shampoo will do its very best to have the best possible product: it has to smell good, have a great packaging and be effective, as he wants buyers to buy the product. I think that applied to researchers – to master communication means delivering their product to their client.
Q– Can you share a few tips with us?
Lucy Davison – Of course! The most important point is storytelling: the way you engage with people, get your point across, really focus on that story and not complicate it. A current problem is that the researchers think that the process of communication is actually the same as the process of understanding. Researchers are often very good at understanding and they do not realize that this is not the same as being able to communicate well. It should be separated because the process of doing the research and the process of communicating the data are different. A tip to researchers would be ‘write a brief like in an advertising agency and think about who is the target audience’.
Q– Can you give us an example of bad communication?
Lucy Davison – There are so many! One thing that always happens with researchers is their inability to focus on the story, as they want to push all the data and information they’ve got, just in case there is something in there that might be good. Researchers do it in a scientific way because they want the data to support what they are presenting and to show everything they have done. To take the example I mentioned above, Lorna Walters from Reckitt Beckinser showed a ‘phase one summary’ of more than 298 slides sent by a research agency. Can you imagine how long the actual report is? Just putting pictures on it to make it pretty is even worse because it distracts from the fact that the content is poor in the first place. It’s like putting lipstick on a gorilla.
Q– Can you now share an example of good communication?
Lucy Davison – One good example which I have come across was done by an English Company called Firefish. Firefish was commissioned by the Guardian newspaper to look into the consumer’s use of its Sunday title, the Observer. The project included Focus Groups, interviews,… and came out with two strongly different ways people behave on Sunday. Instead of just using the vox pops, they brought the data to life dramatically using their film division called Firefilms, by using actors and a script to show the two types of day: Sunday Rest, showed the opportunity to recharge batteries and Sunday Play, showed the consumer connecting with friends, culture, life. It was enormously impactful for the client and changed the way The Observer was marketed on Sunday.
Q– Is there a story behind your company’s name?
Lucy Davison – I like to play on words and what is memorable so when I was setting up the business, I liked the idea of mustard. It is something that brings out the flavour in food, as it is spicy and lively. My idea for the company is to bring out the best in our clients. In English we have this old phrase “as keen as mustard” it means incredibly keen, very sharp and very enthusiastic, and I thought it was a nice name for a marketing company.
Q– What about you?
Lucy Davison – I started out working in design in all sorts of aspects: architecture, product design, graphic design, brand design… I worked for ten years as a consultant, doing mostly marketing and PR, writing papers for the Financial Times, Marketing Week, and other newspapers. Then I worked at Research International for seven years as Global Marketing Director where I got interested in the market research industry. I left in 2006 and set up Keen as Mustard.
Q– Who are your clients? How do you help them?
Lucy Davison – We mostly do BtoB marketing. We plan and manage all aspects of marketing from strategy and positioning to implementation across all media – events, e-marketing, design, print, research and PR as well as helping research companies communicate and improve the quality of what they are delivering to clients.
Q– Can you tell us why you are coming for a two-hour session at Added Value France?
Lucy Davison – I love every opportunity I get to come and talk to an audience of market researchers because that is where we can make a difference. I strongly suspect that Added Value is in a much better place than the other organisations I’ve been involved with. In the first place, the company realises communications is an issue and is doing something about it. The fact that Added Value is also part of WPP means you’ve got people like Aziz Cami creative Director at Kantar or David McCandless, data visualisation expert for Kantar doing Awards and competitions. I’ll be preaching the converted but that’s a good opportunity for me and I’m very keen about it.
Q– What are your next projects?
Lucy Davison – We are producing infographics for the annual league table of an English research magazine. We are doing lots of PR for clients all over the world. Our presentation at the Esomar Congress 2011 means I now have a lot of meetings with clients wanting us to meet with their research department and help them to communicate better.
Lucy Davison is Managing Director of “Keen as Mustard Marketing”.
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