Some of you may recall a recent blog of mine lamenting the rather poor image painted of Market Research in the March 2012 issue of The Harvard Business Review. I read on today, same issue, different article – and much to my irritation, the same general negative picture of MR appeared, but with further negative nuances.
The gist was as follows: Research as the enemy of innovation, as shown in a fictitious Case Study. A Board Member responsible for Innovation is challenging a traditional Company to develop a breakthrough technology, and meets resistance. One roadblock: Market Research, portrayed as a gain-sayer that simply can’t see “the big picture” – in this case, the potential of breakthrough innovations.
A well rehearsed theme – Research as the enemy of creativity and innovation.
Hmm. I’m a little tired of being part of an industry that serves as a convenient punching bag. Isn’t it time for the MR Empire to strike back?
Well, here’s my hypothesis: we have a great product with a poor image. We’re in urgent need of a facelift – a classical re-positioning exercise, if you like.
And maybe we need Marketing techniques and tools to go about it.
Let’s imagine our industry were a product – what we do to rejuvenate it? How would we diagnose ourselves?
A SWOT analysis would help, a positioning statement, a Marketing plan, budget and timing.
I’m not going to go into all that a full Marketing programme would entail – but I’d like to touch on one issue crucial to any Marketing Plan: Audience definition.
Who is our Target Audience? It’s broader, in my view, than just MR Agencies and Clients.
Here’s my take:
1. We have multiple audiences.
We need to think way beyond the Client-side Researcher / Supplier paradigm. “Talking amongst ourselves” isn’t going to get us very far, even if it gives a feel-good factor.
2. CMOs are a relevant audience we do too little to influence collectively. The same is true of General Managers. Budget allocations happen at the top of organizations – we need to ensure we’re well regarded at this level.
3. Influential advisers matter. Analysts, consultants, Advertising Agencies, CFOs – all are vital audiences. What are we doing to reach them with our “message”?
4. Sales folk. We neglect the role of Sales at our peril. VOC is often an ambiguous acronym – who is “the customer”? Trade partners are critical influencers within any organization.
5. Trend Agencies. Another influential group we don’t engage with enough, in my view.
6. Universities. The role of influential Marketing Professors is undeniable.
7. Editorial staff of influential Business and Marketing magazines. There are plenty of them around, all with their own needs and Agendas.
There are more – University students, the General Public are two that spring to mind.
What do these audiences a) know about us and b) think about us? Do we have a good understanding of relevant Touch points? What’s our Messaging Matrix? Tool Definition?
What are we doing to manage our Image outside of our narrow confines?
Not enough, I would say. Individual efforts are fine, and I know of plenty of examples where MR is extraordinarily well perceived. But I don’t see the wider community picture, concerted efforts to engage in influence marketing – and I’d love us to have the Reputation we deserve as an energetic, intelligent, innovative industry.
Curious, as ever, as to others views.
Originally posted on Research & Reflect