Over the Christmas and New Year break, I was reading Anthony Gell’s bestseller ‘The Book of Leadership’ (if you have not read it, I suggest you do – it is a cracker!). The very first chapter starts off with ‘Leadership starts with a love of what you do’. In it he champions the fact that ‘you have to be inspired by what you’re doing and where you’re going, otherwise you won’t be able to bring people with you on the journey’.
I found this part particularly relevant because I was in the process of meeting friends and family (old and new) over the festive break and describing what I do for a living. Years ago, whenever I met people and they asked me what I did for a living, I would say ‘market research’. They would say “oh yeah” and a vague image of people with clipboards and nuisance phone calls would flash across their face, and that would pretty much kill the conversation. There was rarely any follow up, rarely any interest and very often no memory of the what I did so I would face the same questions every year!
But I realized that the term ‘market research’ suffers from bad branding. It sounds old, stale and it does not generate any excitement with people. So a little while ago, when asked what I do for a living, I elaborated a little. When asked, I state, ‘I run a market research company (and without pause for a breath)….we help companies generate and refine new ideas that help them better engage their customers’. There was a stark difference in the response. All of a sudden I provided an interesting glimpse at what we do. All of a sudden there were follow up questions. Really? What sort of companies? What ideas? How do you generate new ideas for companies? What are some of the best ideas you have seen?
I went from killing a conversation to being able to debate the merits of different products and brands. This instantly changed the energy of the conversation. It became a mini-brainstorm, with people offering up their own ideas. The thing is, everybody has an opinion about products and services that matter to them. Providing a little glimpse of the process that companies use to make decisions interested people.
It is this part of the job that I love and it is this part of the job that sometimes gets lost in background, methodologies, jargon, base sizes and processes. Don’t get me wrong all of these elements are important, but these are not the elements that excite our clients or consumers (or indeed our friends or family). Whatever your role is in the market research industry, I hope you love it. If not, then please do find something you do love and leave research to the passionate people!