3 Ways to Enable a Storytelling Research Culture


Traditional market research departments are often somewhat isolated from the rest of the organization. The structure is typically very top-down and unidirectional, posing a potential hindrance to interdepartmental communication within the organization. In Vivisum’s conversations with Research (R)evolutions participants in 2013, we identified three main strategies that researchers employ to integrate the research team into the rest of the organization.

1. The importance of staff training

Market Researchers often suffer from a problem of being pigeonholed. A researcher is often seen as ‘the numbers guy/gal’, someone who is extremely analytical and therefore could not possibly master the ‘right brain’ skills of storytelling and aesthetics. While it may be true that most researchers tend to be a little more analytical than your average marketer, our conversations with researchers have revealed that research departments are increasingly training their employees in these areas, broadening their skill sets to include things like storytelling and presentation design.

2. Creating useful templates

Imagine if the workers on the factory floor of a car company built each car with no design, no established process, and only a vague notion in their minds of what the car is supposed to look like. Not only would the task of building one of these cars take an immense amount of time, and make uniformity go completely down the drain, but you’d most likely come out with some pretty unsafe cars. A market research deliverable isn’t quite as dependent on precise replication and uniformity as a car would be, but researchers are finding that the same basic principle applies. In order for research deliverables to consistently display all of the storytelling elements mentioned previously, templates are usually required. Templates save time when cranking out deliverables, maintaining the energy and momentum of the project and increasing efficiency.

3. Expecting more from your vendors.

The choice of research vendor is increasingly important the deliverable process. Traditionally, market research vendors are very commoditized services that offer one-size-fits-all solutions. In order to mitigate this discrepancy, researchers are increasingly placing more importance on choosing the right vendor that works with them as a partner rather than a commodity. In addition, researchers will often communicate to their vendors what their standards are and demand that they live up to those. The growing trend, ultimately, is seeing vendors as partners who are part of the team and are held to the same standards of quality as the rest of the research department. Photo courtesy of Christchurch City Libraries on Flickr Creative Commons

Ellen Hart is a Director at Vivisum Partners. She specializes in in-depth qualitative research in healthcare and nonprofit fields. Email Ellen at ellen.hart@vivisumpartners.com