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Innovative companies are getting huge results from their insight communities in less than one year. So, what’s their secret? According to Laura-Lynn Freck, senior manager for shopper and category insights at Red Bull, getting customers and stakeholders excited is table stakes, but that’s not all.

At the 2017 Customer Intelligence Summit, Red Bull and two other innovative brands outlined how they made the most of their insight communities in their early days by scoring massive wins that benefitted their brand and their customers. Freck was joined by Madialen Cahen, intelligence marketing project manager at Jacquet Brossard, and Ettie Etela, VP of research and insights international at Scripps Networks Interactive UK.

Keep it light and fun

Insight communities are useful tools to harnessing customer intelligence, but it’s important to keep it fun, said Freck. This can be done by gamifying the interactions with customers to get them excited. It also means avoiding sending long surveys and over-communication.

Selling the insight community internally is just as important, she advises. You need to get your own organization excited about it as a new, innovative idea, rather than just another market research tool. Red Bell chose to move forward with its community because it provides a constant current of insight that complements its ad hoc research initiatives, said Freck, and provides deeper insights.

Red Bull has been able to accelerate product development timelines and establish retail partner relationships more quickly and effectively with the insight gleaned from its community, said Freck. An early, significant win was influencing a local product launch, which she said was a big deal as those decisions are normally controlled from head office in Europe.

Create a process

While Red Bull sees gamification as enabling a successful community, Scripps has learned it’s not about offering prizes, it’s about authentic, two-way conversations, said Etela. Showing customers how their feedback has impacted the company drives engagement.

She said it’s important to get buy-in and establish workflows with stakeholders as soon as possible, but at the same time companies should take it slow. And although it’s important to have process, Etela echoes Red Bell’s philosophy of not being overly rigid and fenced in standard market research practices.

Scripps saw added value and immediate impact from its insight community. Etela said it’s easy to use, provides the company with more control, and is less time-consuming. It was also easy to personalize for its business. Most importantly, having an insight community led to Scripps’ best year for sponsorship dollars while reducing its research budget, she said.

Establish support and resources

While Freck recommends keeping the community fun and cheeky, it also requires a dedicated resource, something Madialen agrees with given the popularity of Jacquet Brossard’s community.

The company’s insight community is its main source of customer insight and its primary CRM tool, she said, so being process-driven is essential for successfully managing the volume of input. She recommends having a point of contact for each insight community. By putting the right resources behind the community, Jacquet Brossard has been able create stronger customer bonds, which, in turn results, to faster responses from customers whenever the company needs feedback.

Upfront investment pays off

Insight communities can deliver significant benefits in their early days. The key is to build the relationships with both stakeholders and customers early on so it’s seen as a strategic resource that adds competitive advantage, not just another market research tool.

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