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This month, our blog features a new format. Angie Yarbrough, Principal and Co-founder of ad agency Stratistry, interviewed the President of Worldwide Market Research, Kim Bergman. Read on to learn more about their discussion, Kim’s niche in the world of market research as a Market Research Strategist and how she ultimately defines success.
So, what is a Market Research Strategist?
It really boils down to being a strategic consultant for companies who are looking to gain insights to better understand their target audience for the purpose of improving their marketing strategy. I truly see my role as understanding the goals and objectives of the research, asking the right questions and then diving deep with our clients to ensure we are getting them exactly what they need to be successful with their own clients.
I do this by working hand-in-hand with my clients to ensure the integrity of the research through effective questionnaire design, identification of the most relevant study participants, continuous oversight of a study in-field and a thorough final data check.
I know that you are well versed in all things market research, but what is your niche and what makes you different?
Our role in a research project extends beyond simply providing quality panelists. We aren’t the usual ‘plug and play’ panel provider. Rather, we consider ourselves a partner of our clients, not just a vendor, collaborating on determining objectives and methodology techniques as well as helping develop questionnaires, programming and hosting surveys. And we do all that while matching the right people with the right project.
We like to say that we’re picky. Which means that we are intentional with every decision as we carefully curate qualified, relevant panel participants from all over the world. We leverage our extensive international network of panel providers and our 25-plus years of experience to deliver the most accurate participants for our client’s projects – even hard-to-reach audiences. And this is absolutely critical, because there is a lot at stake – If you don’t have the right participants for your survey, you’ll be basing your business results on bad data.
Another thing that makes us different is the relationships we’ve built. We’ve worked hard to earn the trust of all of our clients – which I’m very proud of. We’ve built those relationships as we’ve helped thousands of clients over the years based on our firm belief in honesty, integrity and dedication.
What’s the biggest issue you see in the market research industry today?
Can I give you more than one answer? While I know there are a number of issues that need to be addressed in the industry, there are two about which I’m quite passionate. First, I think the business-to-business sector of market research often makes the mistake of seeking survey completes at all costs apart from confirming they’re looking for the right audience. I believe that we must instead work together to preserve the integrity of the research. We have to stand together and take responsibility for getting the right results. A completed survey doesn’t necessarily mean that it was a quality survey. That’s why I’m so committed to getting the right participants for every study in which I take part.
Second, I believe there is a very real problem with communication between buyers and suppliers in the B2B sector of our industry. There are many constraints from the budget to deadlines to a required number of participants. So the relationship between research companies and market research strategists and panel providers can sometimes be tense. This often leads to a failure in communication. I was just reading about a survey by The Economist Intelligence Unit that was conducted in 2018 about the negative effects of poor communication in the workplace. I think it was around 45% of respondents indicated that a lack of clear communication ended in either project delays or complete project failure. And that lack of clear communication can be even worse when it has to cross organizational boundaries. Too often, research companies don’t effectively communicate their needs and requirements. And don’t get me wrong–panel providers can also be bad about communication. So, I’m on a mission to improve this. I always ensure that we have adequate touchpoints built into every research project to better address this very issue.
As a Market Research Strategist, I do my best work when I can be involved in helping throughout the entire research process. I also think the key to successful execution in research is to always deliver what is promised and to only promise what can actually be delivered.
What advice do you have to research companies looking to find the right research partners and panel providers?
Selecting the right partner for your research is incredibly important to ensure the success of your project. That partner needs to have the right credentials, skills and resources to execute the project. Those are table stakes. In addition, they need to be just as committed as their clients are to achieving the determined goals and expectations. I always think it’s best to work with those who bring additional resources, specific expertise and a fresh perspective to the project.
Beyond that, I think it helps to vet prospective partners in a variety of ways: How many studies have they completed? Are they involved and members of relevant industry associations? For example, we’re a long-time member in the Insights Association and are ESOMAR 28 compliant to ensure that effective and dynamic security is in force to help secure the integrity of participants. That lets our clients know that we are not only upstanding members of the research community, but we also adhere to the highest ethical and global standards for data, research and insights. And just this year, I’m proud to say that we were named by Quirk’s Media as one of 17 top online survey research companies.
It’s also important to assess whether there are shared values with a prospective partner. Do they ask meaningful questions? Do they seem to be collaborative, thorough and flexible? Are they good listeners? A good partner will work with – not against – their strategist when a potential problem arises, like making a last-minute shift to a study design.
At the end of the day, I think it’s most important to find partners who recognize the importance of always doing the right thing. When people do the right thing, they not only have a positive impact on those around them, but they have proved themselves to be worthy of your trust. And there’s simply not a price you can put on that.
We’d love to hear from you. Send us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can’t wait to collaborate on your next study.