VP, Strategic Growth
As we continue to navigate a future where there is a possibility of a recession around the corner in the short-term and more intense disruption in the long term, I have been interviewing successful marketing and insight leaders from different industries for their best career advice.
Earlier this month I had the opportunity to enjoy a morning coffee with Swati Bhargava, a behavioral scientist at Danone, who shared wisdom that I am confident will spark new ideas for you as you continue to build your career.
Learning from others is something I value immensely; if you share this passion and enjoy this overview, please send me a note. I’d be happy to share additional content in the form of podcasts and articles that you might find helpful.
Here are five career building lessons I took away from an inspiring chat with Swati:
Disclaimer: Any of the opinions shared by the parties in this article are considered to be their own personal opinions and are not to be associated with any organizations.
1) Reframe “consumers” as “people” who use our brand
When you refer to people as “consumers”, you are subconsciously creating a sense of detachment.
As insight leaders, it is our job to humanize the people that use our brands and understand how we can improve their day-to-day lives.
Our role as researchers is to help our organizations build more intimacy with and empathy for the “people” that use our brands.
The language we use with our stakeholders is key in cultivating the right mindset, so why not refer to “consumers” or “shoppers” as “people” who use our brands?
2) We need to get closer to the people that use our brands
As David Ogilvy said, “People don’t think how they feel, don’t say what they think, and don’t do what they say.”
We can encourage stakeholders to understand the people that use their brands better by observing their behavior and measuring their emotions, conscious beliefs, and non-conscious associations.
With the innovative tools available today, observing and understanding behavior is more accurate and more enjoyable for everyone involved.
There is simply no excuse not to get closer, to understand, and to improve the lives of the people who use our brands.
3) Look for research “partners” instead of “suppliers”
Like we can re-frame “consumers” as “people”, we can also think of “vendors” and “suppliers” as “partners”.
Research partners should be intimate with your brands and the people who buy them. They should help you uncover and activate insights, build strategies, and drive growth.
They partner with you to tackle complex business questions using innovative approaches and tools, while ensuring that you build trust and credibility among your stakeholders.
Research partners aren’t afraid to challenge your assumptions. They also aren’t afraid to refer you to another partner if they don’t have the unique solution that will help you solve a business question.
Research partners do all this, because they put building your brand with you at the forefront of their agenda.
4) Add value and build capability to become an inseparable partner to your stakeholders
In today’s quickly moving business environment, there is no shortage of “projects” or “deliverables”. Despite this pace, we need to help our organizations think beyond their short-term needs.
As insights leaders, we have a unique opportunity to proactively influence the strategic direction of our organizations to enable growth by offering foresight.
When we position ourselves more “up-stream” in the strategic learning journey, we become “inseparable partners” and generate more impact on the down-stream decisions that we are making and validating through research.
We also have the unique privilege of helping our internal partners refine their own intuition by building more intimacy with and empathy for the people that buy their brands.
5) Be proud of your craft and fuel curiosity for those around you
We are privileged to work in this industry as we are on the forefront of understanding human psychology and behavior. If this is truly your passion, it shouldn’t feel like work.
Over the last few years, innovative researchers have uncovered new tools, approaches, and methodologies that allow us to measure emotion more accurately, discern between conscious beliefs and non-conscious associations, and observe ensuing behaviors more easily.
Even as we face future challenges like economic downturns or further disruption, new opportunities will be created and the mindset we cultivate is important to our future success.
Remember that regardless of our environment, we always can control our attitude and mindset, so work hard at cultivating an attitude of gratitude and try to find new ways to fuel curiosity for yourself, as well as your internal and external “partners”.
Again, I am so grateful to have had this opportunity to share Swati’s insightful career building advice with you.
As I mentioned earlier, learning from others is something I value immensely.
If it is equally important to you, let me know and I’d be happy to invite you to be a part of our Brand Builders Community, which connects 350 marketing leaders from different industries in 23 countries to one another and valuable thought leadership forums.