What exactly does a consumer market insights professional do? Contributor Will McInnes gives you an inside look at the social CMI world.
As the socially driven CMO forges the path of success for social consumer market insights professionals (or social CMI), you may be wondering exactly what the social CMI does.
First and foremost, these individuals play a business partner role to marketing and other integral business departments — like finance, R&D, design, supply chain and more. They help marketers build their plans and strategies and help product teams innovate their road map; they provide strategic counsel to communications (comms) professionals from an overarching brand perspective all the way down to the granular consumer view, often as a means of informing specific advertising campaigns.
Contrary to popular belief, diving into actual data analysis makes up only a portion of the social CMI pro’s day. The role also demands a great deal of communication and collaboration. Market researcher (MRX) and consumer insights (CI) workers must strive to find the balance between these two very different skill sets.
Aside from the analytical aspect of the role, social CMI professionals must be something else entirely — they need to be storytellers.
CMI teams amplify the voice of the consumer across every aspect of the business and throughout the ideation funnel processes, including idea generation, product development, product testing, product refinement, communications and beyond.
The biggest task for every CMI professional is to embody and integrate the voice of the consumer at every step of the journey and throughout the business. So what exactly do they do?
What a social CMI pro’s day looks like
A working day in the life of the social CMI team might look like this:
6:40 a.m. — Spin class at the gym
Ever the multitasker, the social CMI professional starts their regimented day early at the gym to get in a quick workout before heading into the office.
7:30 a.m. — Office arrival
Typically the first in the office, analysts and project managers (PMs) in your company’s consumer insights teams (previously known as the market research team) are already enjoying a cup of coffee. While getting their daily dose of caffeine, they’re ensuring they are fully caught up on emails by the time the rest of your staff arrives.
8:35 a.m. — Ping! Incoming new project request from product team (via email)
After several initial brainstorm meetings in which individual product developers picked the brains of consumer insights professionals about what types of questions they can pose to social and traditional data, the official project brief arrives in the inbox of your PM. Your project manager reviews the research schedule and assigns an analyst. The PM decides to give the report to a senior analyst on the team that will be finalizing an HR report with the company’s people team later today.
We want to avoid the most prevalent problem in any market research project; if you set it up badly, you can skew your results. This is even more probable with social, because you start your search with a specific group of people or time frame as an entry point into the data. If you don’t ask the right questions, you will not get reliable answers!
9 a.m.–10 a.m. — Prepare PR/comms daily report
Another analyst has booked time in a private phone booth to dive into the social data for reporting earned brand activities for the daily meeting with the comms team. This includes social conversations, videos and articles by influencers, earned news mentions, paid advertorials and comments on articles, blogs and in forums.
There is also a section of the report focused on delivering the same data for the top three competitors.
10 a.m. — Deliver daily PR/comms research report
Deliver aforementioned data and insight to the entire PR/comms team, including the director of comms and the CMO. The high-level metrics, including volume and tier breakdown of media brand coverage, is delivered in this daily email report. All data, charts and verbatims are compiled and collated into a PDF.
Every day, this report is delivered by the preset 10 a.m. deadline. The comms team is up and running and ready to address any public issues or crisis comms concerns, and to act upon media opportunities or an opening for competitive depositioning.
In the past, the comms team has been able to pitch commentary from the company’s CEO into a breaking news story about the regulation changes in the brand’s industry. These daily insights give the brand’s comms team a competitive edge and help it to stay ahead of the news cycle.
11 a.m. — Marketing & CMI team ad hoc meeting
Last week, one of the marketing managers sent a research request via email that was vague and potentially misguided. They want to discover who influences the brand’s influencers but did not determine in what capacity — on social? At events? And influences them in what way? To read something, buy something?
The project manager and CMI regional team lead called for this meeting to better understand the question the marketers need answered. The discussion in person also serves as a way to make sure we try to deconstruct all potential research avenues we can take to execute this research successfully.
12:30 p.m. — Lunch & learn with supply chain team
There’s no such thing as a leisurely lunch in the world of CMI.
As the perfect opportunity to engage a captive audience (that isn’t hungry), we’ve ordered sandwiches and salads to the main conference room to deliver new research to internal supply chain stakeholders. Social data is being analyzed alongside supply chain for the first time in the company’s history.
We’re delivering the data from the last two quarters and outlining three ways to improve supply chain processes by acknowledging that social data is directly pointing to specific product lines that need increased inventory in regional stores.
1:30 p.m. — Calendar block to research & write report brief
Block off 1 1/2 hours for quiet time to write a brief for a one-off research project for the product R&D team. The product engineers are looking to uncover new sub-markets to develop new product features within the regular industries the brand serves.
This time on the analyst’s calendar is an opportunity for desktop research, referencing previous industry reports from analysts, media and other sources. It’s a chance to do some preliminary social research through an audience discovery tool as well as via advanced social analytics.
Writing the brief itself will be easier the more the analyst discovers through this first level of research.
3 p.m. — Meet with HR
Review research on employee advocacy delivered the day before; discuss new project to discover niche professionals via social discovery.
5 p.m. — Training with business development team
Senior analysts are running a training with the extended business development team to share the results of a social selling research report looking at the last 12 months.
A significant portion of the training time will be dedicated to sharing the best practices for social selling in our specific industry: how the competitors are doing it, ways we can differentiate our offerings and influential personalities in the online conversation on Twitter, Instagram and in industry forums.
Insight from data is incredibly valuable. But without a next action that applies that insight to increase sales, achieve better business results and meet objectives, the data just sits in a silo — inactive and underutilized.
6:30 p.m. — Panel session at MRX industry event
Two of your CMI team members are heading to an industry event to sit on a panel about how to integrate new data sets into the research mix. Both of your analysts are focused on delivering a case study for integrating social data into traditional research. Also serving on the panel is the CEO of an MRX agency focused on biometrics and a researcher from one of the most famous traditional data measurement companies.
9 p.m. — Heading home
Finishing up the day, the CMI pro feels accomplished, productive and intrigued by what they’ve discovered from the data today. Already planning for tomorrow, the analysts are thinking up new ways to better communicate insight and engage their respective clients.
The inherent value of the CMI department
An important takeaway from the world of smart social CMI is that market researchers spend a lot of their time helping others get their research briefs just right. The right research approach, outlining specific and relevant questions, contributes directly to the outcome of any research project.
Stakeholders in product R&D, marketing and any other department typically come to the CMI team with their required end data point in mind. They have an inkling about what it is they want and how to get there. Consumer insights pros are communicators, storytellers and advisers who need to spend time with different research requesters to guide them to the answers they seek.
CMI pros can guide their business partners to the best possible way of answering their research questions — which may be a totally different approach from what was initially requested. CMI pros need to be scrupulous, as resources are not limitless.
During certain stages in the development of a product, it’s necessary to show that the idea is viable and worth investing in further. There are certain aspects during the process that will always need traditional quantitative studies to prove sales and purchase intention. However, the value of social can be woven into different stages to complement traditional research methods and enrich the data that a business is receiving.
Solving a problem through insight from data is the easy part. Discovering what the problem is — and uncovering the real underlying question — is where the journey begins for the socially smart CMI practitioner.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.