Some might say that DIY research, or DIY insights, is something that has been going on a continual basis for quite some time. It’s an everyday experience for some teams more than others, with limited team members and limited budgets. There are less resources to work with vendor groups. And there’s more of a call than ever for tools to be internal.
Sundaram says, “I’m very familiar with the pains and learnings from how we have been able to do more with less. I would be remiss if I didn’t start with 2022 and leading into 2023. There’s been a lot of uncertainties. Com companies do not know how to budget for the next few quarters or months because things have been changing. Customer behavior has been changing. We are tightening budgets and deepening our focus on efficiency. Teams and companies had to look harder and be more creative in achieving efficiencies with less budget and fewer resources. Companies had to look into their current vendor contracts, finding opportunities for savings and weeding out things that were not critical. And taking a very hard look at their teams itself and saying, how much can we do all of this internally or through teams that we already have hired either on shore or offshore, making sure that we maximize our internal teams before looking outside.”
From a business standpoint, all of that certainly adds up. But it seems to be all subtraction from resources and budgets.
“It’s also given everyone the muscle to see what is really required to run the business, and not be wasteful. Not that companies are, but it’s more so taking a critical lens into what is really required and what we can do with the resources we have,” she points out.
This in turn shapes a more performance management-based focus. Sundaram observes, “A lot of the work that we do is actually performance management, making sure that all the business initiatives that we sponsor or we run actually run efficiently. Efficiency is and has been the buzzword for a good part of 2022 and now. Within growth marketing, for example, it meant acquiring customers at very good CPA, which is cost for acquired customer. And ensuring that they had very strong lifetime values. For customer retention, it meant incentivizing audiences more surgically and continuing to push for customer loyalty because a retained or existing customer is much cheaper to save than a new customer to acquire. While the KPI is varied for different functions, the math basically worked out too. How do you create or how do you execute at this, at a similar level with lower spend?”
DIY research, or doing less with more, is not necessarily a new trend. However, the focus needs to continue to be on tracking the entire journey, as opposed to taking a piecemeal approach.
“Capturing and owning your first party data is paramount to unlock when companies have to be nimble,” says Sundaram. “Think when we were in the middle of the pandemic, companies that actually had their own data were able to quickly react to changing customer behaviors. They pivoted into what different products they were buying and making those changes more quickly than others who did not have control over that data. With key stakeholders, they’re able to take actions quickly, especially when customer behavior is changing.”
Collecting insights, then, and looking internally, can provide a key unlocking for the company’s initiatives. And they are not only just looking inward, but also looking at the overall market.
“There are definitely measurable benefits of having a more rounded view of insights. Comparing and contrasting internal insights with market or external behavior is key to better understanding if you are unique in facing the headwinds or if everyone is in a similar boat,” she adds.
So can DIY research and insights outperform the resources that you previously may have had? Is that what a true DIY mentality is about?
Sundaram notes, “This is a development opportunity for your current teams. Say you have resources that do certain things within a company. When you have to go through a phase of efficiency, you’re looking at maximizing the impact from a team, you think of other ways to develop. If you are in a specific lane of analytics then maybe we can also do data science or business intelligence. It kind of increases the scope of the same team. Because sometimes the skill sets are the same. It’s just having a different mindset to say I can scale or I can stretch. To do a little more. And it challenges people, it makes them more excited to be part of a movement. I would say having that coaching mentality and looking at it in a more positive light is actually a win-win. For example, when management trainees join companies, they are sometimes rotated around different departments. That is pretty much what you’re trying to emulate by stretching a person’s capabilities or skill sets and making them grow in a professional environment.”
See the video for the full discussion on DIY research with Seth Adler and Anu Sundaram.