As CEO of Hotspex, I am incredibly proud of our team at Hotspex for achieving our recent ranking in the GRIT(Greenbook Research and Insights Trends) Report.

We have been voted the #1 most innovative insights firm in North America by clients for the second year in a row.

Globally, we were voted the #4 most innovative insights firm by clients. We are excited by the opening of our Tel Aviv office, which now accompanies our three other global offices in New York, London and Toronto.

I was at Cannes Lions a few weeks ago brushing elbows with some of my marketing hero CMOs and they are all talking about marketing reinvention in different ways. Innovation is everything. The pace of innovation is relentless and those who innovate better win and those who don’t, lose.

Upon reflection, I realized that there are a few key ingredients to being innovative in the insights space. They are simple insights, but they do require discipline to execute properly.

I hope that sharing these three ingredients inspires you to think a little more innovatively, regardless of your role.

Ingredient 1: Create a Culture Obsessed with Innovation

The first ingredient to be a top market research leader is to build a culture that is obsessed with innovation and impact.

At Hotspex, we are deeply obsessed with the “new”. We invest heavily in research and development to grow our clients’ brands using cutting-edge technology and behavioral science.

We do all of this with a deep focus on our clients. That is the human side that builds trust and allows us to make our clients heroes in their organizations.

Having started this company in 2000, Hotspex has spanned my whole professional life. I am honored to have worked with thousands of amazing people and top global brands to achieve amazing things together. Over the last 18 years at Hotspex we have re-invented ourselves five times using client-focused innovation. Each iteration has resulted in the creation of a better, stronger, and faster consultancy that helps our clients grow their brands and advance their careers.

It’s been quite the ride! And with the world changing as quickly as it has, we know the only path forward is a focus on innovation and impact.

Over the past year, we launched our own CPG product to better understand what our clients’ experiences. It’s been amazing learning how to formulate, brand, advertise and Amazon-ize a new brand from scratch. To learn more about our product, click here.

We also launched a media group to create significant immediate impact on brand building ROI. It’s growing at over 75% and the impact we are having on growing brands is amazing. Our solution, Cognitive Media Targeting, uses Google Machine Learning and our Emotional Mapping to align ads with content. We even won a Canadian Marketing Award this year for the exceptional performance our platform delivers. Here is a short overview on this new technology.

Ingredient #2: Build relationships with change-minded clients.

The second ingredient to building an innovative insights firm is working with change-minded clients. Clients that have a laser focus on being innovative and impactful tend to want to be on the leading edge in finding new brand building opportunities.

One of the key insights I gleaned from an insights leader of one of the world’s biggest CPGs is that members from his team who bring innovative solutions are the ones who create the most impact and, ultimately, get promoted.

He explained that people on his team who drive innovative thinking in the art and science of insights are the ones that will be the best equipped to manage the increasingly complex and challenging world of marketing.

Let’s face it: brand growth is very difficult these days, and insights methods that blend technology and behavioural science best reveal new patterns and pathways to growth.

From a Hotspex perspective, we know that we can’t innovate or create impact without working closely with our change-minded clients.

In fact, we leveraged the relationships we have with our most change-minded clients to create our recent innovation that makes advertising more effective by integrating our behavioral science expertise with Google’s deep machine learning. The clients that participated in our pilot were the first to take advantage of this new technology.

Last year we did a Webinar with a number of such to help insights pros future-proof their careers. If you’re interested, you can check it out here.

Ingredient #3: Hire, grow and empower the right people.

The third and most important ingredient to creating an innovative and impactful insights organization is building an amazing team. We have learned over time that the people who most love working at Hotspex are insatiably curious, incredibly smart, and passionately focused on wowing clients by exceeding expectations.

In return for their hard work, they get incredible exposure to global brand building challenges for some of the biggest companies in the world.

Our past and anticipated growth – 20% year over year since 2014! – are allowing us to invest heavily in the right people. Hotspex is fortunate to have several investors that are courageous enough to heavily invest in new technology and new business models. Their desire is to invest in growth versus taking dividends.

This has allowed us to have a full technology team run by an amazing CTO, Toby Pilling, who manages the design and creation of mind-blowingly cool technology, such as the above-mentioned Cognitive Media Targeting.

I recently heard the CMO of Shell on Jim Stengle’s CMO Podcast talking about how he has an “X-men team”. All people have different powers and, when combined, they can achieve anything. We have started to round out our team with former McKinsey consultants and leading behavioral scientists and it’s been amazing to see how the combined thinking creates 10x the results.

Are you driving innovation and impact at your organization?

In closing, I hope these 3 ingredients that have made Hotspex a top innovator in our industry have sparked some new ideas for you.

Innovation in insights has never been more important. Those that too rigidly resisting change will not survive the coming technological disruption. Think big. Think new. Think you!

Again, whether you are a client, supplier, or someone looking for a new career in insights, please get in touch, so that we can find ways to innovate and create impact together.

Shane Skillen

Founder and CEO

Hotspex Group of Companies