November 2008

What Makes a Good Researcher?


Dear Reader

As its name suggests, the aim of better insight‘ is to give you a deeper insight into the world of market research. We promise not to bore you with statistics or blind you with 101 ways to conduct a telephone interview. Instead, we will offer you plenty of good advice on getting the best out of market research – to benefit your business.

In this issue we thought we’d tackle something pretty fundamental to good research results – choosing an experienced researcher. We’ve even got a cartoon that helps make the point. So read on for some advice and tips on how not to get landed with ‘Erics’ (i.e. juniors/trainees) and a case study illustrating the benefits of using a good research agency.

Don’t forget to drop us a line to tell us what you think of this issue. And if you’re a brilliant researcher, and your name happens to be Eric – we’d particularly like to hear from you …

Happy reading!

Martin Holliss

What Makes a Good Researcher?


It’s a common scenario: you want to do some market research, so you invite several well-known agencies to tender. One agency stands out with a stunning proposal – complete with an all-singing, all-dancing presentation by a Director that is so convincing you award them the work.

Mysteriously, though, when the agency starts work on your project the Director melts away – leaving you in the tender care of someone else entirely. Worse still, you soon start to suspect that this person hasn’t much experience of your kind of project. Your suspicions are confirmed when you finally get the report you’ve paid good money for. Far from containing insights that will help you grow your business, the report tells you nothing you didn’t know already.

It’s not ‘Eric’s’ fault, of course – he’s only a trainee. His senior colleagues are to blame. And Eric will probably become a really good researcher given time and the right. But he’s not there yet. And your valuable project is definitely not the right place for his on-the-job training.

So what does make a good researcher?

First of all – to help you, the client, the researcher has to understand what you need. That involves asking you the right questions to get to the bottom of the issues your research project is designed to address. (And a good brief from you will really help them too. Look out for some useful tips on that in the next issue of this newsletter.)

They should also be able to add some ideas of their own to the ones you put forward. After all, you are paying for their knowledge and experience.

Having listened carefully and made suggestions, the next stage is to draft a set of clear and tightly-focused research objectives (your agency should be willing to help), and then to design a research solution that meets your needs.

They should have plenty of relevant – and demonstrable – experience in the research techniques needed for your project. They should also be willing (and have the experience) to discuss alternatives with you.

Finally, a good researcher should be someone you can trust and work well with.

At Research Insight, all our staff are director level and, when very specific additional skills are needed, we draw on the services of an extensive team of trusted and highly qualified associates. A large chunk of our work is ‘repeat business’ – clearly we’re doing something right!

Business Insight

A major credit card issuer asked Research Insight to run their internal European marketing research team. We provided them with a director, team leader and three experienced marketing research professionals. Not an ‘Eric’ in sight!

The initial 6-month contract was extended for a further 12 months.

Not only were we able to build the client’s research capability from scratch, we also designed and co-ordinated all their marketing research projects and provided consultative expertise to their Business and Marketing managers. This ensured that all research activity was robust and action-focused.

Resources – Where to Find Great Researchers


One way of assessing the credentials of a marketing research consultancy is to take a look at which professional bodies they belong to.

Three of those we’re members of are the Market Research Society  the Association for Qualitative Research , and the Independent Consultants Group . All three have really useful online directories, and the MRS also has a Professional Code of Conduct  which we and all members subscribe to.