Unleashing Insights to Drive Strategic
Innovation for Profitable Growth

About Us

Insights to Innovation is about customer centricity, addressing customer needs in creative and innovative ways. Insights, generated with the ongoing quest to better serve the customer, lead to innovation of products, services, experiences and marketing approaches that drive profitable growth.

Listen Carefully. We believe in listening carefully, encouraging customers to reflect and honestly share. What are their needs? What are their goals? What are the barriers to desired behavior? What’s worked? What hasn’t worked? What are the key emotional considerations at play?
Embrace Possibilities. We believe in the power of embracing possibilities. Just because something hasn’t been done before, doesn’t mean that there isn’t a better way. It’s about asking “what if”; Brainstorming for the “I wish.” It’s about engaging everyone in the innovation process – customers, stakeholders, partners…at first, with no judgment, no criticism; staying truly open.
Be in Beta. We believe in the process of innovation through ongoing improvement. Prioritize. Test. Learn. Improve and optimize. Not everything is going to work. There’s value in being in “Beta” with a Growth Mindset.
Optimize the Customer Experience. We believe that building a better customer experience is critical to establishing a brand’s positioning and differentiation. Designing the customer experience is a journey and not a destination…it’s about building emotional connections with customers; it’s about developing Learning Relationships, delivering ongoing value and relevance and establishing Trust
Engage and Inspire Employees. We believe that to deliver a great experience, for many brands, it’s about employee engagement and inspiration. Getting stakeholders to understand what customers are thinking, feeling and experiencing can be challenging. Tools, like video ethnographies, are powerful in helping to foster a richer understanding of the customer to support innovation efforts.

Portfolio of Services and Capabilities

    Insights

    Voice of Customer Analysis

  • Qualitative & Quantitative Research

  • Storytelling Ethnographics

  • Customer Co-Creation & Idea Generation

  • Customer Journey Mapping

    Innovation

    CRM/Customer Experience Design

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is fundamentally about developing a “Learning Relationship” with individual customers so that they can be treated in a way that is customized to their needs and value to the organization. Ultimately, the goal for companies is to increase the return on their customer base. Optimizing Return on Customer (ROC) requires a systematic and disciplined approach to managing customer relationships, including a focused understanding of the characteristics of the most valuable and most growable customers in the portfolio and the opportunities that are most likely to impact their behavior.
    The customer experience is established through the sum total of all interactions that consumers have with a brand across all touch points. Designing a customer experience that reflects a brand’s positioning and delivers a highly relevant experience across channels and across the stages of the customer lifecycle can be a key differentiator.
    Customer experience design and contact strategy development includes analyzing the current communications and identifying ways to enhance the overall approach to make it more efficient and effective. Each interaction has the potential to strengthen the relationship and the emotional bond a customer has with your organization.
    Customer experience design typically involves persona development and customer journey mapping of treatment and contact strategies. This approach identifies opportunities to integrate personalization and 1 to1 marketing and provides the planning roadmap of initiatives for the future state customer experience.
  • New Product, Service & Experience Developement

  • Innovation is about creating the new — new products, new services, new experiences and new strategic partnerships.
    Supporting the innovation process can involve facilitating brainstorming sessions for ideation, concept testing, pilot design, development of the Minimal Viable Product (MVP), optimization, refinement and launch.
    Gaining consumer insight along the way in the development process can be critical in successful implementation.
  • Marketing Strategy & Implementation

  • Developing a marketing plan requires an assessment of the effectiveness of previous marketing activities as well as the prioritization of potential initiatives under consideration.
    Implementation support involves road mapping of various initiatives, developing specific marketing strategies and tactics and measuring and optimizing activities.
    Precisely defining a brand’s positioning is a critical exercise for developing marketing strategy.
    What is the frame of reference that is being used in addressing their need? What is your brand’s differentiation? What are the reasons to believe? What benefits are you providing that address both rational and emotional needs?
    Establishing the opportunities to strengthen a brand’s positioning typically requires facilitating sessions with key stakeholders as well as customers, prospects and competitive customers.
    This insight provides a valuable foundation for effective marketing implementation across channels as well as growth planning.
    It’s much cheaper to keep an existing customer than to acquire a new one. Developing an impactful loyalty program can be an effective approach to driving frequency and volume of purchases. Determining the best approach for doing this and strengthening the emotional connections that customers feel towards your brand requires. Advocacy tools and approaches can also be an untapped area that can drive growth. Identifying the most effective approaches to inspire existing customers to become advocates can be a very valuable strategic exercise for growth. Understanding the profile of existing customers is also critical for effectively prospecting for new customers.
  • Employee Education & Engagement

  • Inspired employees are those who are aligned with an organization’s mission and are highly motivated by the organization’s purpose. Helping employees understand how they can address customer needs and add value to them, can make a tremendous difference to engagement.
    Developing educational training modules, which integrate customer insights from video ethnographies, for example, can be a powerful and inspirational approach to gain organizational focus on the customer and alignment about the role each employee has in contributing to the organization’s vision of delivering the ultimate customer experience.
  • Strategic Innovation Planning & Execution Support

  • Strategic innovation planning is about framing the most significant opportunities for growth. It requires an understanding of key market drivers, internal capabilities and rich insight into unmet needs and opportunities.
    The “Jobs to Be Done” approach to disruptive innovation is an example of the type of process that can be used to frame opportunities for growth. This was initially developed by Clay Christianson and can serve as a useful methodology that can be integrated into facilitated strategic sessions with stakeholders and customers.
    “Discovery Driven Planning” is another key tool that can be leveraged for pilot and scenario planning.
    Innovating strategically based on a robust insight foundation is an iterative process with the potential to drive significant profitable growth.
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Experience Across Industries

Biography

Sophie Vlessing is the President of Insights to Innovation. She is a strategic marketing and customer experience innovator with extensive experience in generating customer insights and unlocking opportunities to address unmet customer needs, enhancing the customer experience and building brand differentiation to drive profitable growth.

 

sophiePrior to Insights to Innovation, Sophie held executive roles at Kaplan for seven years, where she served as a Senior Vice President of Strategy and Innovation as well as a Senior Vice President of Strategic Marketing and Student Experience. At Kaplan, Sophie led numerous innovations to enhance the student experience across touch points for both prospective and existing students and alumni.

 

Prior to Kaplan, Sophie was the Vice President of Marketing and Guest Strategy at Regent Seven Seas Cruises. She championed a series of award-winning, customer-centric initiatives and the cruise line’s rebranding and repositioning that contributed to an organizational turnaround of over $100M in pre-tax earnings and the selection by Conde Nast for best large ship cruise line. Sophie started working with the Regent executive team in 2003, as a Senior Partner at Peppers and Rogers Group and joined Regent in 2005.

 

Sophie has consulted on marketing and customer experience strategy with Peppers and Rogers Group, Marketing Corporation of America and Mercer Management, working on a variety of brands including Jaguar, BMW, Navistar, Tropicana, Heinz, Marriott Vacation Club, Payless ShoeSource and Disney. She also has brand management and new product development expertise from Nabisco and Ameritech.

 

She earned a B.S. in Economics from the Wharton School of the University Of Pennsylvania and an MBA with Distinction in Marketing and Organizational Behavior from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.

 

Recognized as a 1 to1 Customer Champion, Sophie has also won numerous awards for her marketing across industries including Direct Marketing Association ECHO, Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) Adrian as well as numerous ADDY and Telly awards. Her innovations have been featured in the New York Times, USA Today, Travel Weekly and Fast Company. She’s also been a contributor to thought leadership in Customer Experience Management and featured in Managing Customer Relationships and Return on Customer books by Don Peppers and Martha Rogers.