• melissafretwell

Adventures in research

Discover how research can take your charity or NGO into unexplored territory.

We like nothing better than working with brands that exist to make the world a better place and are dead proud to work with a range of inspiring youth charities and non-profits along the way from Ideas Foundation, We Are Hummingbird to bibic. Gideon Barker is a long time compadre of White Camino and founder of Customer IQ. He brings a wealth of research smarts from projects big and small at CALM, Teenage Cancer Trust, Bristol & Weston Hospitals Charity, Cycling UK and many more. We picked his brains, [he was willing] to share a few nuggets about why it’s worth investing in research and how to make it sing for you.

To us, an ‘insight’ is a piece of understanding innate to your organisation, to your supporters, to your stakeholders. It might be something that helps you unlock your understanding of what people need, what they believe or how they respond to things like marketing and communication. Insights present you with an opportunity - to get more support, to be more impactful and get more noticed. Good insight is built from good quality research and data - a variety of sources which corroborate an insight is often what we look for.

You don’t know what you don’t know kind of says it all.

"What if your unconscious biases and passion for your cause take you down a financial cul-de-sac? You have created your own echo chamber of “insights” which affirm your thinking rather than unearth the uncomfortable truth that you’re going to have to change direction."

Understanding more about your customers, your market and your competitors is pretty vital whether you're presenting to the board or as a marcomms planning tool. Too true Gideon, too true.


Here’s our 6 and a half hot tips on where to begin and how to write the ultimate research brief to really get what you want, need, desire. This is really about you stepping into our shoes and thinking about how the research process rolls, how you can then challenge us! Key beats to land:

  1. Start with the end in mind - how are you going to use the outputs of the research to deliver the most impact? Are there any extra benefits like capturing sound bites for your social media content, building out PR stories or adding colour to annual reports? Make the most of the gold. Then you have your objectives.

  2. Is it primary or secondary research you’re after? Sometimes a brilliant synthesis of existing insights can give you a strong indication of where to go next whereas commissioning your own research using quantitative or qualitative (ideally a combination of the two) can take you to some unexplored new ground.

  3. Who do you want to understand better? Think in terms of lifestage and mindsets alongside demographic variables such as age, gender, education and income.

  4. Where do they hang out? Leveraging your own database is great if it’s about understanding your current supporters but if it’s about prospects then think more laterally about where they spend their time and how best to reach them.

  5. Claimed versus actual behaviour is always a slippery fish. Most people want to be perceived as generous and honourable but when it comes to parting with time or cash then the realities of life take over. There are however, smart lines of questioning and ways to observe behaviour which can eek this out.

  6. Telling stories through data and insights - it doesn't have to be dry spreadsheets and bar charts, there’s loads of exciting ways to communicate the findings from video montages to epic infographics. Research should never feel dull and the style should appeal to the final audience. 6.5. Side note: 2 pages max please and be sparing with your lingo. You can of course include links to supporting docs and imagery. It’s all about making it easy to digest and navigate.

It can be tempting to work on the short term returns, the immediate results rather than playing out the benefits of research over time. If the research you need is about building your brand then the return you see will be gradual. It takes a long time to build brands and seconds to destroy a brand’s reputation. If it’s more about substantiating claims for your campaign, one fascinating bias is social proof. Herd mentality can be your ally. People do what other people do so you may want to look at ways of stating the popularity of your brand in relevant ways to your audience. Ice bucket challenge anyone?


At White Camino we're big fans of shortcuts, not in terms of quality that would be bonkers, but getting to the fundamentals and prioritising these which helps deliver great work fast and without costing the equivalent of an annual salary. We build the team according to each brief and are genuinely invested in the cause. We collaborated with Gideon on a recent bibic brief. Pip Buckley, their Managing Director puts it best:

“bibic has been working with White Camino over the last few months with support around our brand and marketing strategy, and I could not recommend them highly enough. There has been so much commitment to this piece of work and a real passion for bibic’s cause. The communication between myself and Melissa has been exceptional and supportive every step of the way. White Camino’s collaborative working style has fitted well with the values of bibic and we feel listened to while also being challenged about our future brand and marketing direction.”

So if you want to find out more, or chat to us about your next research adventure we have the rough guide. Be bold and book a chat with us here. Who knows where that could take you!





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