Robin Hafitz, CEO of Open Mind, was kind enough to answer a few questions for us. She’s a busy woman, so we asked her six fast questions to give you a primer on her side of the business – strategy and insights. . Grab your lunch and find out why your gut is a good thing and why pattern recongition is a better tool than “trend” briefs.
1. Open Mind provides insights and strategic thinking to its clients. How do you gather these insights?
Usually through primary research. Sometimes by looking at secondary or client research with fresh eyes.
2. JWT released a watch list of 80 trends this year. How do you decide what insights are worth their salt and which, are merely fads?
Trendspotting is a somewhat dodgier business (though I’m as interested as anybody else in them, and have been known to spout off on the topic). But we do talk to so many people within the course of every year that we have a sense of ‘trends.’ Trends and counter trends always co-exist, so it’s as easy to make a case for slow food as for faster, for hugh tech & high touch, etc. We look for patterns. Insights ‘worth their salt’ make sense of the data, and are of value to the client.
3. What do you think the biggest mistake your clients make when it comes to making strategic, insight based decisions?
There are two big mistakes: going only with their gut – thinking their perspective is universal, empathy failure. And not going with their gut – acting based on research that lacks humanity.
4. And then, how much power or sway do you have with your client? How often do they not listen to your advice?
Depends. Those that have had success with us take us very seriously. I’d say the ‘sway rate’ is probably 75 percent. But sometimes they listen, and care, and nonetheless internal political or cultural or budgetary issues mean they don’t follow through.
5. Larger agencies have trend and consumer insight units based within their doors. Is their some advantage
to hiring an outside, full service, stand alone firm such as yours?
I think it’s all about the people, not about where they work. Truth-sayers can be hard to find in bureaucracies, though.
6. Often, insight companies such as Iconoculture or Faith Popcorn sell their insights sans strategic thinking. Do you think you can separate one from the other?
Sure. I think of their output as being more like a journalistic or academic product.