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Translating Aha Moments – How Qualitative Researchers Maintain Their Crucial Roles


Welcome to Part 3 of my new series for M2Moms® called The Evolution of Qualitative Research. In part 2 of the Series, we discussed how qualitative research helps build brands women want to do business with. In part 3 of the Series, we will discuss why qualitative researchers must transform into translators to maintain their relevance and secure their key role in the marketing process.


“Just The Facts” Approach Won’t Cut It

Gone are the days when qualitative researchers could hand over their findings and wash their hands of providing actionable insights and recommendations. A “just the facts” approach to qualitative research will not fly in our current client climate. Expectations have changed. Digging for and finding gold is a good start, but it’s not enough. We have to turn that raw gold into something pretty for the client. We have to translate the data into something useful.


I don’t blame clients for pushing back on a “just the facts” approach to qual. Research is a costly investment (with good reason) and it’s too easily discarded or chopped out of the financials because it’s deemed a quick way to salvage a few bucks out of dwindling budgets. Clients are often left pondering, “How do we use these findings or now, who do we have to pay to make this an actionable insight?” It’s frustrating for clients and that’s why qual researchers have to change the way they look at the data and their findings.


Looking Through A Marketing Lens

Qual research findings need to be viewed through a marketing lens – that’s what turns gold findings into actionable insights (or a gold bracelet). When I moderate our SheThinks sessions, I’m constantly viewing findings through a marketing lens. I don’t lead the discussion as a marketer, I follow the discussion as a marketer and that’s an important distinction. Viewing the discussion through a marketing lens, shines a spotlight on key findings – they positively sparkle! As a marketer, I follow salient moments in the discussion, and messaging directions, copy points, brand positioning and promotional opportunities appear before my eyes. And, before someone cries, “Bias,” I can assure you it’s not about injecting my bias. I follow the conversation with the advantage of understanding what questions I need to ask to manifest actionable insights and that’s how I deliver on client expectations.


Aha Moments

By being a part of the natural flow of the conversation, I’m there when the Aha moments occur. I don’t really have to search for them, they find me. They practically smack me in the face! Aha!!! It’s, for example, a SheThinks participant putting her leg on the table during a session we conducted for Schick razors, to illustrate to the rest of the group how smooth her legs were after shaving several days earlier. This demonstration and the subsequent conversation was a monumental Aha moment. My ensuing recommendations included a shift in the brand’s positioning as well as an exciting new and effective messaging direction. Translating the findings into actionable insights made for a happy client and a winning new brand strategy.


Qualitative research is an integral component in any brand journey and remaining crucial to the process means it’s time to translate the Aha moments and deliver on the expectation of actionable insights.


Key Takeaways:

· A “Just the facts” approach to qual research won’t cut it anymore

· Viewing the data and findings through a marketing lens is crucial

· Being present for the Aha moments is invaluable to a translator (formerly known as a qual researcher)

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