If you’re like most research professionals, you’re passionate about your craft; I know I am. We thrive on uncovering and sharing the facts, data and insights to help our organizations and our clients’ organizations thrive and succeed.
The value of the insights we offer — often straight from the customers’ lips — can’t be overstated. That’s why I find it a little ironic that the key to being considered a great researcher — one whose recommendations are appreciated, accepted, and utilized — lies in being so much MORE than a researcher. Actually, this applies to whatever your area of specialty is.
We need to know more than research
Researchers understand research like nobody else. But in today’s business environment, that is our cost of entry. To offer meaningful recommendations and influence our organizations, we must understand the ecosystem around research.
If we are going to research marketing issues, we should know something about market strategy and tactics. If we are to research price, we should know something about pricing strategy. You get the point.
We need to know more than just our craft. We must understand:
- Business strategy
- Marketing strategy
- Pricing strategy
- Communications strategy
- Who the decision makers are and what they are trying to accomplish
- What our clients want, expect, and are trying to prove
- The challenges with executing the types of recommendations that we make
Although this broad range of expertise or knowledge may not be natural to us, it benefits us to develop it. The danger of staying within our own research world of execution, techniques, and simply managing to research objectives, means we will miss the mark. Not because the research was wrong, but because we did not understand the ecosystem around the issue we are researching.
Those of you who have been in research for any length of time understand that there is typically more to the research objective than what is stated. It’s critical for us to understand the context around the objective.
Understand the ecosystem surrounding market research
By understanding the ecosystem and the context around our clients’ request, our analysis will be more on target. Our recommendations will move from sophomoric to sound, and our insights will move from discrete data points to true insights that can be used.
So make it your business to meet with and get to know your clients — internal or external. Try to understand their jobs, and what they’re trying to accomplish, and even their challenges. Let’s read our company’s marketing plan. Let’s understand. Understanding enables you to set the right goals, execute relevant research projects and deliver value-added insights.
Learn marketing and business strategy from the best
I’ve also found that learning from experts through reading their books is a great investment of time. So make a point to look at the works of Jim Collins, Seth Godin, Peter Drucker, Michael Porter, or other business authors that you may respect.
When we reach the point of understanding and “business savvy,” and when our clients see this understanding, our recommendations will be accepted. We will be asked to comment on non-research decisions because we understand the market, the company, the industry. Our jobs suddenly become a lot more rewarding – and valuable to our clients.
Of course, there’s always the option of staying within our comfort zone and learning another research technique. Which do you think will have a larger impact on our clients, our companies, our careers, or our job satisfaction?
There’s a lot to being considered a good researcher — maybe more than you thought. No one ever said it was easy. But I can tell you that taking the time to learn and understand makes our jobs a lot more fun and meaningful.