Whether it’s during a breakout session at one of the many great market research conferences that I get to attend or during one-on-one discussions with my clients, I hear a lot of the same themes about the role of market research within client organizations. Some of the most common themes are:
How do I raise the perception of market research in my company?
How do I ensure that my hard work is used by my internal clients?
How do I make sure that my clients come to my team first with their research needs?
In my view, the answer is simple: become a trusted partner. But that begs the question, doesn’t it? How do we, as researchers, elevate ourselves to “trusted partner” status? First, I think we need to do a better job of understanding what our end clients are really looking for. Often, what that means is recognizing that what is important to us may not be important to them.
Our end clients want answers…we need data
Our end clients want answers …we need statistically reliable samples
Our end clients want answers …we need representative populations
Our end clients want answers …we need a comprehensive market assessment OR a multi-source measurement program OR an in-depth needs analysis
Are you sensing a pattern here? Certainly our needs are important, but the question is “are they important to our end clients?” Probably not. Now, I’m not suggesting that we stop conducting statistically reliable, representative, and comprehensive studies, but I do think that we need to start delivering the findings thereof in more concise, straight forward ways. I’m suggesting that we stop hiding behind mountains of data, caveats, qualifiers, and statistical significance testing. Instead, we need to provide clear answers to complex questions. That’s how we can become trusted partners.
Consider a recent TED presentation that I came across. According to Hans Rosling, Professor of International Health at Karolinska Institute and co-founder and chairman of the Gapminder Foundation, the washing machine was the greatest invention of the industrial revolution.
“In Hans Rosling’s hands, data sings.” I think you’ll agree. Here, his argument is less important than the way he presents the material. While I don’t anticipate that any of us will bring household appliances to upcoming presentations in the future, I do think there is a lot we can learn about how to showcase our research.
Specifically, I noted the importance of:
- Simple visuals
- Personalizing the story
- Simplifying the data to its most relevant pieces (even if that means losing some of the nuance)
- Explaining why the findings matter
- Recommending what should happen next
OK, so I do realize that Hans Rosling has set the bar high. But, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive to incorporate as many of his good habits into our presentations as possible. In so doing, I think we’ll become the trusted partners we know we can and should be.
Posted by Jim Garrity. Jim is VP of CMB’s Financial Services practice, never wears blue jeans to work, and is looking forward to co-presenting at The Market Research Event in November. (The pressures on Jim)