Brokers of Knowledge: The Currency of Market Research
By Geoff Lowe
Brokers understand what their customers want and use their experience and expertise to get it for them. As market researchers, we are brokers of knowledge and insights. We are experts at exposing the heart of the matter. Our clients rely on us to guide them to results that impact their business. Or do they? According to a recent report by market research leader Greenbook, clients are still dissatisfied with the final products they receive from their research teams. Specifically, “Clients are mostly satisfied with how market research suppliers conduct research, but less so when it comes to consulting skills like understanding their business or business issues and reporting results and recommending actions.”
This is something that we should all pay very close attention to as researchers: tying our work directly back to the client’s business success. Rather than just handing findings over to clients, we must act as good brokers, guiding clients on the right way to invest this knowledge for positive results. In short, our outputs must be shared in a way that goes beyond the insights; beyond even making data-based decisions. Our outputs must substantially contribute to clients taking right data-based actions. But how do we bridge this gap?
If you’ve been in the market research space for any amount of time, you’ll know there’s no “one size fits all” solution here. Some projects require a deep dive for a full understanding of exactly what’s going on in the marketplace, while others must cater to the C-suite with topline results and high level business impacts. However, there are a few things that are universal. One is the need to spend time in the planning and strategy phase to really get our heads around the client’s business goals. This is essential to shape our deliverables and ensure subsequent actions clients take move them closer to their goals.
So, what do good brokers do? They know their strengths, they ask good questions and they leave their clients a step ahead—smarter and more informed.
- Know our strengths. Our clients hire us because we know our stuff. We know how to ask the right questions and how to find the right people to ask. Let’s not pretend we know everything, though—we don’t. Which is why we must…
- Ask questions. We can’t do the research our clients need unless we know about them, their goals and their expectations. When we understand these basics, then we can help recommend research-based actions that will lead to positive outcomes and to…
- Moving the client forward. Our clients should exit their interactions with us knowing more than they did when they went in. After all we’re broking knowledge. The knowledge we share must leave our clients more equipped, more confident, more in control and closer to meeting their goals.
With the right tools in place, we can broker knowledge that works. Beyond up-front planning and an understanding of the real underlying need, we should harness all the new technology and innovations that are flooding our industry with increasing speed. Our long-standing desire to show the very real impact of market research is now, more than ever before, within our reach. We have tools that integrate data from many sources and create outputs that can influence a company’s actions to reach its goals. We now have no excuse. We must make the currency we trade in—knowledge—really count for our clients.