Thursday, August 9, 2012

Research Rocks!

Today's post comes from TMRE Guest Blogger, Katie Clark. She is also known as @InsightsGal on Twitter and a client-side market researcher, project manager, and social media maven. 

When I have the chance to chat one-on-one with market research colleagues I consistently hear that we really really love our work, even when it’s crazy, 19 reports are due, and the client just doesn't grasp the insights yet. 

If you check the #mrx Twitter feed during market research conference season (watch for my tweets from TMRE!), you'll see an excited buzz about what everyone's learning and how they can apply that back at home’s clear that we’re an industry that loves what we do.

So how is it that so many of us “fell into research?” Why is it that folks outside of research still turn up their noses and relate market research only to dinnertime phone calls and mall intercept staff with clipboards. Yet, when I explain the various aspects of research and provide examples of what researchers do, people really perk up!

I work a lot with college students (I'm a alumnae recruiter as well as a market research mentor to college students). I get the same initial reaction from students, but widening eyes when I talk about the different methodologies of research market, how research influences products, advertising, politics, and what the next wave of research might be (gamification? neuromarketing?).

Every single one of them says "That's not what I thought at all!"  If anything, they have an inkling about market research, but no solid examples about what possible jobs are out there, what a career in market research entails, and how fun that can be. Once we've had that initial conversation, they get really excited and want to jump into jobs and internships with both feet. And thanks to some fabulous research companies (thank you Vision Critical and 360 Market Reach!) several of the students that I mentor are starting their careers in research.

Now is this the case for all students - a vague idea of market research at best? No, definitely not, there are some amazing candidates coming out of market research-specific programs at fabulous intitutions such as the University of Georgia. But I get the sense that for the majority of folks, research is definitely under the radar.

Dana Stanley wrote a great blog post about this last year and I've been thinking about it ever since. Dana's right, we’re not doing a great job of marketing ourselves, and our industry. Is it because we're so inherently curious about how others think/purchase/shop/etc., we neglect to shine the spotlight on ourselves to promote the industry?

So here is my call to action for you, let's be better marketers of market research for the next generation. How?
  • -Talk to your alma mater and offer to be a mentor to students interested in research
  • -Open your office to summer interns to give them a taste of what research is all about
  • -Speak at a local college or university's career development office, or at a related class (such as anthropology, statistics, etc.)

Let's make research a career the younger generation aspires to!
More about Katie: Based in Portland, Maine, Katie manages the market research team at Diversified Business Communications. She has worked with companies large and small and in industries such as software, fragrance, finance, and entertainment to help them move the business forward through actionable insights derived from market research. She is passionate about bringing the”Voice of the Customer” inside the organization. The opinions expressed here are her own and not those of her employer.

If you'd like to join Katie at TMRE 2012 this November 12-14 in Boca Raton, Florida, register today and mention code TMRE12BLOG and save 15% off the standard rate! For more about this year's program, download the agenda.

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