Don’t Do Research in Your Sleep
A colleague in market research once complained to me that he felt bored and unchallenged by all the client satisfaction and loyalty research he was doing, claiming he had mastered it to the point that he could do satisfaction and loyalty research in his sleep. I was struck because I could not think of any market research that I found boring or unchallenging, and certainly none that I could do in my sleep. On the contrary, my experience is that doing great research requires intellectual work and waking thoughtfulness no matter how many times it is done and for how many clients.
Contrast this with a client for whom we were generating weekly data reports from a tracking study who said that her directive (and hence our directive) was that “nothing goes to my internal clients without insight.” And so every week we cleared off our desks, closed the door, and examined the data for new angles and insights. If we were unable to come up with a compelling, non-boring, challenging story, then surely our client’s client would not find it either. And if nobody can find a compelling story in the data, why is the client spending money on it, and why are we being paid to do it?
In our view, high quality market research requires smart, thinking people who are:
- Curious about your problems
- Passionate about getting the right data to answer the right questions
- Diligent and detailed in turning that data into stories that give you insight
Nobody can do these things in their sleep. The next time your research partner starts nodding off mid-sentence, “Why, yes, we have done this kind of work so many times we can do this project in our sleep . . .” take another look at the work they are doing for you and ask yourself whether everything they do delivers thoughtful insights you can use. If it doesn’t, give us a call for a different perspective on how to do research.
—Joe Hopper, Ph.D.