I'm at the marcusevans Market Resarch & Consumer Insights conference today talking about strategic thinking and the opportunity that market researchers have to contribute to broader strategic success in their companies. One of the keys to delivering on this promise is to have strong relationships with your key market research partners.
Several years ago, I sat down with our main market research company to address what was wrong in our strategic relationship. Taking the approach that we both had faults leading to problems in our relationship was a constructive way to get both of us back on track. The “Ten Things” list can work for almost any market research relationship. Fell free to use or adapt it with your marketing partners:
Ten Things - The Foundation to a Strategic Research Relationship
- Be a “thought partner” with us. This is a two-way street – we’ve got to treat you like one before you can do what it takes to become one.
- Your energy and passion for what you do (and your intellectual curiosity) need to be evident.
- There’s a difference between researchers who think they’re researchers and researchers who see themselves as business people. It’s tough to explain the differences, but they’re readily apparent. We need researchers who think like business people if we are to be successful.
- Understand our business more deeply than from just the numbers that you see. If not, we’ll never get to where we must go.
- Bring creativity to questioning, analysis, and reporting (and any place else in the process). That means generating new ideas to produce breakthroughs on mutual efficiencies, high impact insights, easy to grasp reporting, and actionable recommendations.
- We must put information into context. We can’t afford to just report numbers or even changes in numbers. We need to get to insights. What does it mean? What do we do about it?
- We have to get beyond reports that show charts and have bullets that merely say what is on the chart. We have to offer our audiences relevant insights. That takes pulling information from various sources (including people) and analyzing, talking, and identifying relationships among everything we’re looking at.
- Look outside our industry or outside research circles for ways to report information. Review Edward Tufte, Richard Saul Wurman, and others. Are there movie scenes that help us get our points across? Magazine ads? Always ask the question: “What’s that like?”
- Communicate proactively - let’s make sure we talk and we’re all clear on things before moving ahead. That may mean a phone call instead of an email.
- Exhibit strong attention to detail – that way we can get beyond fact & spell checking and spend our time on delivering insights.
If you can get to this point with your research partners, you’ll truly be doing COOL WORK that matters and that can change your company and your industry. WOW!!!