'Commando Research'

How many times have you been tasked with 'finding an insight' in an hour?

Today, more than ever, there is an unrealistic expectation about what Marketing Strategists can deliver in a certain timeframe.

Read below to find out more.


There is a lack of understanding about the time it takes to:

  • Think a problem through properly.
  • Dig and uncover the insight by talking to customers and stakeholders.
  • Provide a solution that is smart, well-researched and inventive.



    The real value of any strategy lies in deep research.

    Deep research gives meaning and direction for advertising and marketing activity.

    It makes a meaningful contribution to any business and is the backbone of outstanding communications.

    But what if you don’t have time for deep research? Or time to talk with your team members?
    What if you’re not part of the important conversations at the start, to be able to ask the right questions to get a project up and running?

    Even though strategies and plans need meaningful information to succeed, the process gets rushed.
    And it takes more time (not less) to dig and uncover the intelligence that leads to insightful strategy.


      But what if you could get meaningful insight in a short amount of time?

      What if it could be fast-tracked, yet still be high-quality without breaking the bank?

      That’s where I come in...


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      Introducing: Commando Research

      What is Commando Research?

      Commando Research is built around the principle of ‘Team Buy-in’. From my 13 years working in market research and strategy, I believe that the biggest barrier to obtaining meaningful insight that can be quickly shared is working in silos and a lack of talking between teams. 

      People can be so immersed in their own role that they fail to communicate at the right time what they think about a strategic direction. Hence, there's no 'buy-in'.

      Commando Research is about having 'Team Buy-In' from start to finish on a project.
      If you have ‘Team Buy-in’ about the insight gaps, the insights that get uncovered and how they are used, then you have a strategy that’s got legs.


      I ask teams to ‘buy-into’ these five stages:

      Buy-in 1:
      The Briefing Stage

      I ask you and your team (not just the person in charge of the strategy) to put down on 1 page the objective, the challenge to overcome and the insight gaps that need filling. I encourage all team members to put their signatures to this, using a simple, shared online document.

      Buy-in 2:
      The Research Brief
      I create a 1-page research brief which each team member signs. The brief contains the research objectives, approach, methodology, sample and timings. There is only one-page and so is quicker to sign off.

      Buy-in 3:
      Customer Interviews
      For speed and convenience, I usually interview customers via Skype, Zoom, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp etc. After the call, I ask them to record on their smartphone their top 1-3 comments from the interviews and send the recording to me.

      At the end of each day, I upload the notes of that day’s research to the shared online document. Each team member is notified and asked to read the notes, ask me for more details, or perhaps ask new questions for the next set of interviews. Actively feeding back makes all team members take mental ownership of the project.

      Buy-in 4:
      Research Presentation
      After all the research is finished, I write up a presentation with text, images and vox pops from the interviews that I then present to your entire team. It won’t be beautifully designed (as time is short), but this is Commando Research: it’s fast, focused and meaningful.

      Immediately following my presentation, while the information is fresh, everyone in the room brainstorms on how the insights will work in a strategy, and outline what to do next. This process gets team members to agree ‘in the moment’ on the insights, take ownership of them, and become accountable to the creative and communications that are produced.

      Buy-In 5:
      Creative Review
      Once the creative work has been produced, I review the creative independently. I’ll rate on a scorecard out of 10 how in tune the creative is with the strategy.
      If there’s time, I will go back to the best 3-5 interviewees from the customer interviews and ask for their opinion on the creative. Then the strategy and creative is tweaked accordingly.

       Photo by  on  Unsplash



      How long does a typical research project take?
      I can do it in as little as 1-3 days, but usually it’s about a week.

      Do you only conduct customer interviews by phone and video?
      Not at all, but I’ve found it’s the fastest, most cost-efficient way to get the interviews done. This speeds up the project and gets quicker buy-in from your team members.

      I also do traditional qualitative research, i.e. focus groups, one-to-one interviews by phone or in person, and stakeholder interviews.
      I can also do desk research looking into trends, and existing documents. I am always happy to do this for teams who have more time to spare.

      What size and type of business does this work for?
      It works for any sized business, of any kind.

      What if my team and I work with a research agency already?
      I don’t want to step on any toes. I tend to pick up the smaller projects (under £10k) that research agencies aren’t interested in.

      What if I already use in-house recruiters?
      I would of course work with them to find the right customers to interview. You might even have a strategist who has time spare. But if you don’t, do contact me.  

      What if my team and I am based in another country from you?
      I can speak to your team and interview customers in different time zones from wherever I am in the world.

      If you would like to meet me in person, or you want me to carry out the research interviews in person, you would need to fly me over to wherever you need me to be. This would be part of the project fee.

      How much does it cost?
      Project fees vary, depending on the brief. In general, the minimum cost is £1k. Moving up to a maximum of around £10k for more complex research requirements. I would give you a quote with cost breakdowns before we start.

      All incentive fees must be paid to interviewees before a project can start and my own fee payment terms are 15 days from invoicing.

      What makes you different from the rest?
      I don’t come with the expensive overheads of big agencies. That means that when you hire me, you don’t pay for office space and things like that. You pay for one man with a Mac and video editing software, who is adept at turning insight into a fully-fledged marketing communications strategy.

      What if you do a project and disappear into the distance?
      I run a ‘no-client-left-behind’ policy. That means that once the project is over, you can email or call me for up to 3 months afterwards for advice on how to implement it.



      Why should you trust me?

      Since 2005, I have worked with over 170 brands, big and small, in advertising, digital marketing and qualitative research agencies.

      I have run over 170 hours of focus groups and one-to-one interviews for businesses including: 

      Virgin Trains, The British Government, HSBC, The Green Alliance, the BBC and Lucozade.

      I’ve also been lucky enough to work with brands such as: Honda, Coca Cola, Police Fashion, TaylorMade Golf, Sage, Oracle and Vodafone.

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      A few client testimonials

      "Picking the right marketing consultant is risky. I’ve worked with lots and I have to say that Simon is up there with the best.” – Caroline Lotinga, MOI Global, London.

      "Simon is simply brilliant. A clear thinker with an ability to get up to speed quickly and is a true collaborator. He is full of ideas. Beyond work, he is also a really charming, humble bloke." – Andrew Chaplin, Client Partnership Director (B2B Marketing, Technology sector), Surrey.


      “Getting 100% clarity is always hard with consultants. With Simon you get that clarity. I recently worked with Simon on a new health drink product we are launching. His thinking helped us fine-tune our brand messaging and launch strategy.” – Evan Michaels, Social Marketer and Social Activist, London


      Want to know more?


      Call +44(0)7979 857951