How did you get there? Lucy Davison

Great to hear from Lucy Davison, the Founder and driving force behind Keen as Mustard Marketing, the global communications consultancy specializing in insights since 2006.

I joined the insights industry in 2000 as a marketing director – from a background working in design, brand and advertising agencies in London in the 90s. So, I came in having been a client of insights companies, with specialist expertise and 15 years’ experience in B2B marketing. I joined what was then a big agency called Research International and had 6 very happy years there where I fell in love with insights. It was a truly global company with offices in 58 countries, so I got to scratch my travel itch! Plus, it was a great combination of fantastic people, intellectual stimulation and recruiting and managing a great team. I used to pinch myself every day as I enjoyed it so much. When I left, I knew I wanted to stay in insights and wanted to set up my own agency with an expert team, specialising in marketing and communication for data and insight. So Keen as Mustard Marketing was born in 2006. I am still the CEO and founder and we have had a very entertaining 18 years working with a wide range of companies from Coca-Cola to tiny tech startups. I love being able to make a difference to clients, to help companies and insights teams thrive and to help place the voice of the customer at the heart of decision making.

If you are even remotely interested in people – what they think and feel and why they behave as they do, then this is the perfect career for you. It is truly intellectually stimulating and enjoyable to listen to what makes people tick. Perhaps because they are so interested in people, the people who work in insights are usually good to be around. My experience has been that insights is typically forward-looking, fast changing and exciting.

I was invited to speak about marketing at a career event for design students, about 30 years ago. I was really young and had never done anything like that before, plus I was not very well briefed – and very nervous. When I got there the room was huge and there were lots more people than I had thought. I had prepared a ‘speech’ which I read out, something I would never, ever do today. I tried hard but it must have been really boring, and people started to walk out. Which made me even more nervous and probably made my delivery even worse. It was one of the most miserable moments of my life!

I learnt so much from that.

  • Always ask a ton of questions before you do anything, who will be in the audience, what are their expectations, what will the room set up be, who else will be there.
  • Don’t be boring, think about how to deliver your story in a fresh and engaging way.
  • Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.
  • Keep it simple, land one message and you will have succeeded.
  1. In influencing and decision-making, you should be proud that you are the voice of the customer, that gives you immense power – be confident to use it and forthright about telling the truth
  2. Think broadly about the business implications and context of what you are doing. Always start from the end point – how will what we find out from this research be used? What is it for? How does it fit into the strategy for the organisation or for our client’s business?

I am not sure I could fit it all in one answer but I guess it could be summed up in one word – communication! First of all, there are so many great stories in insights that we do not share beyond our industry – I would love to see more people from insights talked about and featured in mainstream media. There are some, but not enough. I also think if we communicated better, we would be more influential within organisations – a lot of the work we do at Mustard is for insights teams to elevate their work, create long term impact within the whole organisation not only the key stakeholders for that one piece of work. To do that you need to curate and synthesise insights – these are journalistic and communication skills that insight teams often lack. Finally, if we communicated better with people who take part in research we would get better data, more engagement and instead of a diminishing pool of participants we would be able to include more people in our studies.

I do not have anyone who has helped my career in the form of a mentor or manager – indeed that is one reason why I am involved in mentoring programmes because I would have loved some help like that in the early days! However, my main influence was my father who died last year. I think I get my massive reserves of energy and positivity from him. Plus, the ability to take a refreshing nap anywhere! He grew up in the US and I think that gave him a ‘can-do’ attitude that I have learnt from. Within insights, Jon Wilkinson who was the CEO of RI, taught me to stop and listen which is a really important lesson for an extrovert like me.

Finally, my two wonderful daughters have given me inspiration – it was the best moment of my life when my twelve-year-old said she was proud of me.