The Role of Marketing Researchers
Editor’s Note: I had the privilege to be invited to the MRIA Annual Conference in St. John’s, Newfoundland a few weeks ago. It was perhaps the best overall conference I have ever attended; it was impactful, provocative and a heck of a lot of fun (check out this video of us all getting “screeched in” to become honorary “Newfies” and these pics from Nelson Davis and Annie Pettit). During the event the MRIA had their annual Research Awards (congrats to the winners, listed here) and Tim McCutcheon gave what I think may have been the best ‘State of the Industry” addresses I have ever heard. I immediately asked if he would turn it into a blog post. Here is the result. It was first posted on the MarketProbe blog. Tim will be conducting one of our “Ask The Experts” sessions at the MRMW North America conference next month; come and have a chat with him there!
By Tim McCutcheon
Research is fun.
Research is challenging.
Research is interesting.
Research is knowledge.
Research is pretty much useless if it just sits on a shelf.
The world of marketing research is changing; as researchers, we need to change or risk becoming irrelevant.
In the not too distant past, research was used to engage and inform. It used to be that presenting reams of PowerPoint slides with an Executive Summary listing key findings was considered a job well done. This approach is now largely considered to be a job done.
Marketing research has taken on a new role within organizations, both big and small. It needs to be used to move the business forward, either through evolution or revolution. Marketing research needs to do more than simply inform, it needs to SHAPE business discussions, GUIDE business decisions and DRIVE business growth, whether measured by client retention, client acquisition or share of wallet. This, in my humble opinion, is what the new standard in research excellence is all about.
As a 17-year marketing research veteran, I love answering tough questions for my clients. I love consulting with them on their business and research needs. I love the research process to the point that I sometimes ask my 3 teenage boys how their day was and ask them to answer using a 10-point scale, where “1” means “the teacher was in a bad mood and I barely passed my English test” and “10” means “we had a Supply Teacher and I spent the whole day texting”. But what I love most of all is working with my clients to ensure that the research has a lifespan that exists long after it has been presented to their internal clients. Having worked on the client side, I get how difficult it can be for client-side researchers to navigate the often turbulent waters that are corporate Canada. And, I appreciate how hard my clients work to move the research and business forward in the face of internal pressures and politics.
A couple of weeks ago, Market Probe Canada had the privilege to be the presenting sponsor of a great conference focusing on best practices in customer experience research. It was fascinating to listen to first-hand accounts from senior executives of many trail blazing companies including Vancity, Telus and Starbucks, as to the critical role played by research firms in helping improve the experiences of their customers. These presentations helped to crystallize why we do what we do in this industry — improve the customer experience through products, service and people and key business outcomes will fall into place. In addition, they confirmed my own thoughts that “excellence” should never be an assumed outcome of any research program. Rather, it is earned through hard work, smart employees, innovative research solutions, top-notch sampling and data collection – whether quantitative or qualitative (if that distinction is even relevant anymore – leading edge advanced analytics to tease insight from information, dynamic, interactive reporting systems, research AND business consulting and the ability to deliver excellent service to our valued clients.
As an organization that strives for continuous improvement of our people, products and services, and one which is dedicated both to “doing things right AND doing the right things”, Market Probe feels strongly that the research community – our research community – needs to adapt to the new realities of marketing research.