Brett Sciotto built a global market research firm with skills he learned from the US Army.
When Brett Sciotto worked as an intelligence officer for the US Army, the difference between good information and bad could mean life or death. The job taught him the value of not only having solid information but also the importance of understanding it in order to make sound decisions.
“One of the things that struck me was the power of good information to really determine the outcome of a situation,” says Sciotto, who now serves as president and CEO of Aimpoint Research in Columbus. “Good intelligence leads to good outcomes.”
When Sciotto left the armed services, he felt strongly that he could use his skills to help others make informed decisions and achieve success. He decided that his abilities suited him to market research, but he couldn't find a firm that shared his approach to the work.
“No one was doing it the way I thought it should be done,” he said.
He started his own company in 2001. He focused on using an array of resources to gather intelligence and analyze it to provide companies the insights needed to achieve their goals.
Initially, he did a lot of work in public affairs, but he rebranded the company in 2012 to reflect his diverse client base and growing number of international clients. Today, clients range from food and beverage companies to agricultural and retail leaders.
Sciotto also purchased an Italian firm in 2015 to serve as a base for European clients. Aimpoint helps clients with market research, brand equity, product testing, customer research and more.
Because of his military background, Sciotto employs a unique mix of tools to help clients understand customers and their actions. Aimpoint will use facial coding, which analyzes emotional reactions, to better understand a person's answers and attitudes. The firm uses heat mapping to determine customer patterns in a retail store.
“Technology plays an important role, as well as traditional methods,” he says.
For a recent retail client, Aimpoint gathered information through heat mapping, mystery shopping, point-of-sale data, interviews and other techniques to make recommendations about a change in store design. “By making a few relatively easy changes, they increased traffic flow, increased engagement and sales,” Sciotto says.
A differentiator in market research that he appreciates is the ability to interview existing customers and would-be buyers. It wasn't something he was able to do in the military. “When we were studying an enemy force, we did not have the luxury of interviewing them. We had to rely pretty heavily on technology to observe a force or a commander.”
Still, Sciotto says, the firm works hard to determine whether what people say they will do is truly reflective of their actions. His team puts a lot of effort into determining what other forces might compel them to act differently. It's all part of delivering clients the right details to inform their decisions, he adds.
The focus on providing clients with actionable information is one of the reasons why the Columbus consulting, marketing and communications company FLM+ routinely works with Aimpoint, says CEO and President Rob McClelland.
“Their philosophy and culture is that they sincerely want to help leaders make better decisions,” he says.
The company routinely goes the extra mile by offering advice on how to use the data it has collected or calling back to see if it can do more to help, McClelland says.
The analysis that Sciotto and his team provide is invaluable, agrees Jennifer Coleman, director of communications for the Ohio Soybean Council in Columbus.
The company helps the council with an annual survey of growers. Sciotto works alongside the council to ensure that the questions are carefully crafted in order to get at the information the council needs, Coleman says.
When the results are in, Sciotto helps the organization hone in on opportunities to pursue or address concerns that the survey has brought to light, she says.
“I appreciate that it's a dialogue,” Coleman says. “He's focused on actionable intelligence.”
Aimpoint prioritizes creating relationships with clients, Sciotto says. “We are very immersive,” he says. “We go beyond insights. Traditional marketing firms stop at insights. We go further and make recommendations.”
Melissa Kossler Dutton is a freelance writer.