One of the recent Research Daily Reports that Bob Lederer has posted on YouTube has stuck with me. This showcased David Santee’s (former client side MR) views on becoming a trusted advisor. I do recommend watching it.
His views dovetail very closely with what I have been saying about interaction. To recap, McKinsey has identified that the types of jobs in which interaction are crucial are the growth jobs of the future. But when we in Market Research focus on getting our projects done and not on making sure they get incorporated into the companies DNA (David Santee’s words, not mine), then we aren’t doing the interaction part of our job very well. When we think our reports will speak for themselves and don’t work on how to ensure they get acted upon, we aren’t doing the interaction part of our job very well. When we avoid meetings as a waste of time, and then complain that the brand team are idiots because they ignored what we wrote in our report, we aren’t dong the interaction part of our job very well.
I’ll repeat what I said in my back to basics entry. The purpose of marketing research is to help a company increase sales. If you aren’t working towards that, if you think your job is to create reports, then you aren’t doing your job. No wonder senior leadership of MR departments is sometimes drawn from outside MR, such as the example that David Santee cites. I saw that first hand several years in a department I was in. Back then, I didn’t get the reason, but I do now. It’s a failure of Market Research to look beyond their work to what the impact of their work is.
David Santee has some good recommendations for change at the senior level which you can see on the video, and I’ll add ones here for how to get this thinking further down into the organization.
- Adding into people’s objectives things that measure the impact their research has had. Perhaps, how often their research solved the problem for the brand or pointed to a new direction,
- In status meetings, don’t just talk about active project status, talk about what efforts people are making to ensure that their previous research is being implemented.
- In department meetings, highlight people or projects that changed the brand or company’s direction.
- Make it mandatory that MR staff take a course or read a book on the topic of persuasion and identify one thing that they can do to ensure their ideas get listened to
- Mandate that employees attend meetings at which they might have a chance to affect the decisions being made, regardless of whether it is based on their research.
- And (echoing what Mike Garcia has added in his comments) get your vendors involved in making sure the project has impact!
I am sure there are other ideas that you can come up with and I’d love to hear them, and what happens when you start implementing them.