Note: Marieke and I got divorced in 2020. This post might not reflect the current situation.
Almost a year ago, I decided to move to Belgium to live with the love of my life, Marieke. With pain in my heart I left my buddies at Boondoggle Amsterdam to join InSites Consulting in Ghent, probably one of the most ambitious, passionate and knowledge-heavy companies I have ever seen. A move I have never and will never regret. InSites Consulting is one of those scarce companies that is really changing a category (making research sexy) and has an intimidating amount of bright employees.
And now, with pain in my heart, I’m leaving InSites Consulting.
To explain why, I will take a step back.
Many brands try to implement consumer centricity, conversation management and consumer insights in their strategy and turn to external agencies for help. Although they share a common belief in the importance of connecting with consumers, they have many different approaches and skills to get this done.
Advertising agencies like Boondoggle help companies to create stuff worth sharing and try to help companies to commit more to acts instead of ads. Word of mouth/influencer agencies like WeAreFirst, Buzzer and Enchante help to connect with influential consumers and leverage the power of word of mouth. Social media agencies like Social Embassy and Talking Heads help companies to implement tactics, social activation and sometimes even social business. Management consultants like Roland Berger, Bain and McKinsey offer high-level business advice when it comes to consumer centricity. PR agencies leverage influentials and try to be impactful via social media press releases and building relations with bloggers. Marketing research agencies formulate recommendations based on strategic research and market findings. And there’s the army of freelance social media guru evangelist consultant experts, some great, some not so great.
The core competence of the agency shines through in every approach. Ad agencies will always be about activation and campaigns, social media agencies will always be social media tool experts, management consultants will always have their business reflex. And marketing researchers will always be about consumer insighting and research. And the freelance social media guru evangelist consultant experts? They tell and write stories, based on what they experience themselves by being headfirst on new technology online and on stuff they read in the works of others.
There is no right or wrong. Just a difference in skills and vision.
Over the last couple of months, we (Steven van Belleghem, Sam Berteloot and the rest of the team) have worked hard to formulate InSites Consulting’s marketing consultancy offering based on the core skills and vision. It is very clear that InSites Consulting wants to give marketing advice by bringing the consumer closer to the decision making unit of clients. And to formulate recommendations based on research and market findings, but the core is still marketing research.
Over this period, we did some amazing client projects to prove this. For Puratos, KLM and Telenet, just to name a few. I was lucky to work which such great clients and amazing InSites Consulting team.
But … over this same period, some kind of incompatibility emerged between the heart and soul of InSites Consulting and my heart and soul. We have a common passion (getting the consumer in the boardoom), but we are passionate about different things as well. I’m not a marketing researcher nor a research consultant. I might be a digital strategist, a presenter or a conversation consultant, and yes, I’m a sucker for great consumer data. But my core skills and main vision aren’t about research.
Hearts and souls should be aligned, at all times …. And that’s why InSites Consulting and I decided to follow our own and different paths towards #worlddomination and consumer centricity.
That means I will be leaving InSites Consulting today (also see the announcement on insites.eu).
In my ambition to connect brands and consumers and make companies more about acts and less about ads, I will start doing digital strategy and conversation management under the name of “Ministry of World Domination“. Feel free to contact me for any digital / social media / conversation related projects.
And, of course, if you want to work with some of the most skilled marketing researchers, and research-based conversation consultants, don’t hesitate to contact my former colleagues and friends at InSites Consulting, Hakim Zemni or Sam Berteloot. Thanks again, mates! I had a blast.