Friday, October 14, 2011

Leading Research Against the Clock

To be a leader takes guts. Am I right? It takes having the know-how of maneuvering tricky situations, aligning people and teams, putting trust in people around you…and much more. To be a leader of market research is no different. What I think might be a little different on the client side where I reside, is managing the balance between business needs and expectations, while also managing accurate and strong research methods.

As we know, some of the most impactful and enlightening insights often come with more expensive, more rigorous, and more time-intensive methods. Some business needs command this depth of information, but I’ve found these business questions also need addressing and insights next week…or tomorrow.

To be a leader of market research means facing these business issues, but also fighting for a timeline more appropriate for (correctly) conducting the needed research. We can get answers now, the quick and dirty way, no problem. But, buying a little extra time to answer important questions that arise provides more confidence that the insights are accurate, representative, and meaningful - for the long run. It takes a leader to recognize the balance that needs to exist between gaining insights and gaining the right insights in the right way… assuming quick and dirty crosstabs won’t work in this case. Even more, it takes a leader to voice concerns when an unfeasible timeline is proposed.

We can all be leaders if we focus on meaningful, actionable, and accurate research (but sometimes a little time helps). How do you strike the balance between business needs and research needs? (Feedback is welcome!)

Garrett McGuire (@GJMcGuire) is a Consumer Insights Analyst for a major retailer. His areas of focus are advertising research, brand equity, and providing consumer insights for many marketing initiatives. Prior to his current position, he was a graduate student at Michigan State University where he began his blog, "The Journal of a mAD Man," that explains the theories and methods of advertising.

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