In the space of 3 days I have heard and read consistently negative opinions about Client side researchers from the very people they are buying from – Agencies.
Certainly made me think.
First up – on the recent New MR PodCast Ray Poynter provocatively asked David Bernstein (@davidabernstein) of Rational Research: “Can you imagine marketing clients in future dealing directly with Agencies?”
Intake of breath number one.
Second – after the podcast, I received an email from a well known European Researcher who lamented the lack of social media/ networking presence amongst client-side researchers. She put it down to arrogance or ignorance.
Sitting down now, glass of water in hand.
Third – I read the RT from Jeffrey Henning reporting on a talk given by Merrill Dubrow of M/A/R/C Research, and on arrival at said blog (,http://bit.ly/tu53jo) I read prediction number 1:
“As corporate research departments shrink in size….”
Excuse me? This Affinnova blog was also retweeted by the venerable Lenny Murphy, with the endorsement “Pretty spot on!”
Wow. What’s going on? Research Agencies envisaging a future without client-side Researchers, and giving the thought airtime? Amazing.
Are we really such a disrespected species as to be one destined to lose out in the Darwinian process?
OK – I can only speak for myself, but here’s my thoughts
1. It’s unhealthy for such a gulf to apparently appear between clients and their Agencies. We need to talk, urgently. And we need a forum to do so – openly. All ideas welcome.
2. Disrespecting Clients indiscriminately is about as welcome as disrespecting “Agencies”.
3. If client side researchers truly disappear – which I very much doubt – or dwindle badly via shrinking departments, then I predict a much more tortuous future for Agencies dealing with Marketing directly.
4. It should be in Agency’s interests to make their clients look good internally – not question their relevance in public. Give us better data, faster, present it in a more engaging fashion – help us sell, if you will.
5. More clients should be encouraged in whatever way to engage in discussions and forums about the state of the industry. We have too few in the SM space – regrettable. We all need to think about ways of opening things up more that results in a win-win. It shouldn’t be just about a seller – buyer game.
Maybe a different type of question to close on: what type of Clients would Agencies like ideally? How should we behave, interact, communicate? And would be (re)-invented, if we didn’t exist?
Curious, as ever, as to others’ views.