It all starts with asking the right questions

Day One Podcast: Insights Room 101

Episode 09: Sarah Jousiffe

On The Day One podcast – Insights Room 101, hosted by Hannah Mann, our guests describe three of their worst insight industry pet peeves and aim to lock one of them away forever in Room 101, much like the popular British TV show. Our guest on this episode is Sarah Jousiffe, head of insights at SKY. Sarah joins us on the Room 101 series to share what things in the industry she’d like to see banished to Room 101 forever. Sarah’s main pet peeves are: poor research briefs, qualitative discussion guides, and branded research solutions. Sarah provides meaningful criticism and solutions during our conversation, and we hope you enjoy it.

Sarah’s first choice for Room 101 is poor research briefs. She says if you really holed down the question, then you’ll perform better research. Any market research you do is going to be used. There’s no course on research briefs. This is why we need to understand the business challenge. This is why we need to understand the objectives of the project.

Great agencies do good training, according to Sarah. Qualitative research was instilled in her since her experience with agency-side work. That’s your first opportunity to build relationships. She can have a quick chat on a call or visit the office to discuss a poor research brief. She can run an in-depth interview with an insights person or someone from the end business to really understand what is it that they’re trying to answer in a collaborative and constructive way.

Sarah shares with us that on the client-side, there are 2000 people in the sales and marketing division at SKY: How do they know what a good research brief looks like? There isn’t a course. How do you take them by the hand and explain? You tell them this is what is considered. You start building the relationship. Subtly inform them how to do a research brief to obtain consumer insights, and at the end of the day, everyone is the winner.

Sarah’s second choice for Room 101 is qualitative discussion guides. She tells us one must be really clear on the business perspective when creating discussion guides: How is that team or person going to use the output? What are the constraints? Because many teams don’t have a budget, they must get a sense of ballpark figures to manage their capabilities. Then, they can focus on the sample – Who do they want to speak to? Then, they need to focus on the key people and prioritise from there with “must includes” and “nice to haves”.

Not to mention, there is an approval process for qualitative discussion guides, according to Sarah. One must jump through hoops to get them approved. Creating a discussion guide should be grounded in solid training. A 15-page guide for a 60 minute interview is not going to work. A good qualitative researcher has a conversation with someone. Verbal answers and non-verbal cues are part of a good qualitative discussion.

Sarah expands on discussion guides by telling us that people get nervous: Do they really understand you can cover an awful lot with one question? You don’t need to cover the sub-bullet questions when we know what the objective is – We’ll get you there. Sarah does admit it’s an important document. You simply need to structure the flow of questions in an ideal way. Understand the objectives to the point that you can rip up the guide. And ask yourself what document are you bringing to the group versus the one you give to the stakeholders?

Sarah hates that you have to allow time for everyone to read the guide and go through it. When the proposal is approved and the objectives are approved, then they make changes to the discussion guide? No client has ever said you didn’t ask those questions. Sarah does admit it is useful when you get four or five people giving feedback. Then, you get a good idea of what they’re looking for, as well as key questions to include. It helps the extra layer of the briefing question.

Sarah’s final choice for Room 101 is branded research solutions. While they can cover a whole range of elements, they particularly try to badge and rebrand. It’s a new fancy way to talk about an online community while claiming it’s implicit testing uncovering emotions. She says it’s the worst type of selling while the people doing the selling don’t understand what the insights team is trying to do.

Instead, Sarah says these agencies should start building the relationship so everyone is the winner at the end of the day. First impressions count. When they try to flog her with something that’s not groundbreaking, she’ll remember them. They need to get to know you first. Don’t try to fix a problem that you don’t know needs to be fixed.

When approaching a potential insights partner, remember things are not necessarily broken, Sarah tells us. Ask yourself what does the end-user need. Think about your potential client, not with a sales pitch. Have an opinion. Have expertise in that area. What are the challenges the partner hasn’t got the expertise in? Then, present thought pieces or opinions. Start with a nice introduction that shows what you can do. Tell them what is the insight. Then, build the conversation from there. Provide client testimonials. Make it worth going through the painful process of procurement. Start with understanding and building the relationship.

Sarah and I both agree to banish poor research briefs forever. We both enjoyed the conversation, and we hope you do, too.

About – Sarah Jousiffe

Head of research at SKY. Building full-service, in-house research capability where the team now manages a wide range of projects that inform key strategic decisions across departments in printing, marketing, sales, and product innovation.

Relevant links:

Sarah’s LinkedIn.

SKY – Website

Day One –

Hannah Mann – LinkedIn