Bring Me Your Problems, Not Your Solutions
“I’m so sorry,” said Eric*, my new client. “I don’t have a brief to send you or anything. We’re just not there yet.” He had just finished Week Two at his new gig. Of course he didn’t have a brief yet! I wouldn’t expect him to. What he did have was an awful lot of questions and hypotheses as he got his head around his new product and company.
“Seriously — no worries!” I reassured him. “You don’t need a brief to kick off with me. That’s a key part of the value I can offer you. We’ll do the work and then I’ll write you one.” I could sense his surprise (and maybe a little relief?) on the other end of the line.
I keep hearing these rumors that there are people out there who find the messy front end of a new project daunting. Really!? That’s where I get jazzed up! I really am not kidding when I ask you to bring me your problems, your messy politics, your weary soul. I have learned over time that I can be dramatically more helpful to my clients when they bring me problems that we can solve together and not solutions already baked that they just want implemented. There are awesome consultants out there ready to do just that for you. Alas, I am not one of them.
My absolute favorite part of the process of creating something new is to be there collaborating with you at the very beginning. Together, we’ll untangle that ball of knotted twine step by step: we’ll clarify decisions you need to make, assess your current data and insights available, and craft that market insights and analysis plan. Then, while you take care of other priorities, I can lead a virtual team to work that plan and bring you back insights to make those decisions.
A Man With a Plan
Eric and I kicked off his product launch strategy and analysis planning in exactly that way. A new senior director at a small, ambitious medical device company, he was an experienced marketer used to the resources and depth of a Fortune 500 machine behind him. At his new gig, however, he was still building a team to help him and was responsible for a product already under FDA review. That ticking timeline to when he needed to be launch ready meant he needed expert help like my team’s — fast. Having grown up myself in that F500 environment, we bonded on knowing what that level of quality looked like for robust market insights work, and then prioritized options for a final plan that a small company with big growth ambitions could fund.
The types of data he needed were a core base that I recommend for this situation:
- Qualitative interviews with key segments to get all those “why” questions answered and some live feedback on positioning, messaging and pricing hypotheses
- Secondary market data to populate a defendable market model, and
- If budget still allows it, a quantitative web survey to validate conclusions with a bigger audience, perhaps even including European or Asian markets.
With my F500 network of strategic partners available, I was able to hire trusted partners — some of whom I’ve worked with for years — to meet Eric’s timing needs and both of our quality standards.
Back to That Brief
Six intense weeks later, Eric went into his Board of Director launch plan review armed and ready: 5 Key Insights about what his target customers really loved or hated, a refined elevator speech for his new product, a market model funnel slide showing the patient prevalence and incidence as well as the current size of that market segment. He was even able to drop into conversation that his quant study was hitting the field that day. Of course, back at the office he also has the detailed qualitative report with plenty of juicy quotes from his new customer base, and the market model in an Excel format that can grow with the product. Our collaboration let him quickly get the data he needed to feel confident in his recommendations and ready to start executing his launch.
Many market research vendors can give you just qualitative or just secondary data, but if you are looking for holistic engagement management to recommend the right elements for your needs, a trusted virtual team that scales, and an ability to quickly become a subject matter expert and lead the process all the way through to strategic recommendations, consider the Jonquil Ridge approach. We’ll get you those key insights and then the practical Midwesterner in me will do everything I can to make sure you stick the landing with that Creative Brief (for a commercial strategy), High-Level Market Specification (for a new product or solution), or Business Case (for a new investment recommendation). I’m a big fan of catalyzing your insights and moving them into activation in the next stage right away.
As Eric’s plane landed back in the Twin Cities following his big presentation, I hit send on the email to him with his Creative Brief – researched, vetted, and ready to set the tone to catalyze his next stage with a couple of prospective creative agencies. The right insights, just in time.
Do you need some help building the core of your market insights for a new initiative — maybe even all the way through to that Catalyze stage hand-off? Book a slot to chat now. I’d love to help you untangle your ball of twine!
*Name has been changed to protect my favorite hard-charging collaborators.