One valuable lesson the pandemic has taught brands is that constantly aggregating and applying usable consumer data can enable them to pivot on a moment’s notice. Research and data-fueled Ayzenberg’s marketing science department, MarSci for short, long before the crisis hit, but in the past months, an increasing number of brands have turned to the agency’s division to help identify the best ways to engage audiences and quantify performance.

Ayzenberg marketing science vice president of strategy, Ashley Owen, applied 2020 learnings to the department’s updated strategy, which comprises five mindset and behavioral shifts– including thinking audience-first rather than vertical-first, letting the problem guide the work, starting with the “so what?” and more. It’s her hope that these shifts will both empower the MarSci team to listen, create and share more effectively, as well as better serve their clients, in the ever-evolving industry.

Let The Problem Guide The Work

Owen encourages the team to not feel confined by their job titles, but instead to reorient how they view themselves—not merely as strategists and data analysts, but as collective problem solvers who explore new routes to reaching a solution. To apply this mindset shift, she suggests identifying the problem and spending time thinking about how to solve the problem first before jumping into action.

Think Audience-First, Not Vertical-First

Owen believes that narrowing MarSci’s expertise to a particular channel or vertical does the subsidiary a disservice. To create content that genuinely resonates with a brand’s audience, she encourages the team to think holistically of all the tools at its disposal. For example, applying creativity and storytelling to a dense deck, using more than the data readily available and applying a variety of strategic approaches and frameworks.

Leaders, Not Members, Backed By A Team

In replacing the old mindset of viewing members within a team or part of a department, Owen challenges each and every member to view themselves as a leader backed by their team. To apply this shift, Owen says the department is exploring different approaches to bi-weekly “Syncs,” where each person gets assigned one and brings something to teach, share or discuss. In addition, to embrace the messiness of problem-solving, she encourages the team to be open to sharing half-baked work, not just work that’s in progress, and reaching out for help and feedback whenever necessary.

Start With The “So What?”

When working under tight deadlines, it can be easy to lose sight of the big picture, but Owen cautions against thinking of deliverables as the end point. To continue adding value to clients, she says it’s critical for the team to think beyond the deck and start with a definitive point of view, or a “so what?” factor for each project or brief being worked on. Even if a client has only asked for a deck, basic metrics or a few slides, she believes it’s important for the team to share their point of view with clients every change they get.

Power The Agency With Inspiration, Not Information

Data is undoubtedly one of MarSci’s most powerful tools, but Owen believes that what they do with that data is even more important. She encourages the team not to call something an insight if it’s simply an observation. Instead, she urges them to “keep digging” and investigate the data until there’s an insight that inspires, as galvanizing others around that interpretation is when they’re most effective.