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Staying Essential by Pivoting during the Pandemic 

kokou adzo



Carly Fink Provoke Insights

We talked to Carly Fink of Provoke Insights about building breakthrough brands using insights and research.

First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times? 

Carly Fink: I am fortunate that everyone in my family is healthy. My two children are toddlers, and I feel bad that they miss out on the typical pre-school experience due to COVID-19. While masks are critical to prevent the virus, I find it sad that my four-year-old child has to wear one at school.  

Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Provoke Insights.

Carly Fink: My career started out working at market research vendors. I eventually grew bored because I felt like I was researching for the sake of research rather than discussing objectives with the client and ensuring that the findings were actionable. I switched my career direction and began working as a brand strategist at top global advertising agencies. However, I often felt that the agency was basing strategy off of conjecture instead of real data. That is how Provoke Insights was born. Provoke Insights assures that the data is not just reading material but also an integral way to make critical decisions about a brand. 

How does Provoke Insights innovate? 

Carly Fink: Our company is continually innovating to provide the latest research technology to our clients. A critical way we do this is through constant learning – we learn by going to conferences, reading articles, and meeting new strategic partners. We also hire researchers from various backgrounds, from language experts to computer science. Combining our diverse staff experience and our flat hierarchy allows for open conversions and new ideas to flourish.

How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?

Carly Fink: In May, the business became super quiet. During this time, we wanted to help out other companies by providing thought leadership about COVID-19. Provoke Insights developed 18 industry reports. The research looked at specific shopping behaviors and trends during the pandemic and how it impacts various industries. We received a lot of positive feedback from the study. The initiative created a ton of brand exposure among prospects.

However, once summer hit, it became quite busy again. Due to the pandemic, our society is shifting their reliance on technology (from eCommerce to working from home). We work with many brands that need to pivot their business’s focus to ensure they remain relevant and capture this new opportunity.  

How do you deal with stress and anxiety? 

Carly Fink: Since COVID-19, I have been working out a lot more. I have a new found love for pilates, which helps relax me. I also hike with my husband. Given that everyone is now working virtually at my company, I have now spent more time with my family. I love cooking all types of food with my children as helpers and sitting down as a family for dinner.  

How do you project yourself and Provoke Insights in the future?

Carly Fink: Even during the pandemic, we have seen company growth. We will continue to stay abreast of the latest issues, trends, and technology to support our clients and prospects. 

Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?

Carly Fink: there are many market research firms out there, only a few specialize. At Provoke Insights, we specialize in our core pillars: branding, advertising, and content marketing. Our researchers are also seasoned brand strategists providing customized research that provides actionable guidance to the marketing strategy. Often the competition does not have the flexibility to provide customized work.   

We are also working on integrating market research with real-time data to provide unique information to marketing teams.

Your final thoughts?

Carly Fink: I am super lucky to have created a company that I truly love. I have employees who help make the company thrive. 

Your website?

Kokou Adzo is the editor and author of He is passionate about business and tech, and brings you the latest Startup news and information. He graduated from university of Siena (Italy) and Rennes (France) in Communications and Political Science with a Master's Degree. He manages the editorial operations at

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