The Voice of the Customer: How researchers are taking control of marketing


The traditional role of researchers within companies is to be the order-taker. Marketing stakeholders decide on the agenda, the strategy, and how researchers spend their time. Well, it’s time to break tradition. From our conversations with Research (R)evolutions members, we’ve devised a few strategies to help you take control of your company’s marketing strategy.

1. Proactively initiate projects rather than waiting for orders: This is a matter of anticipating where market research will be valuable. Rather than defaulting to what the marketing team is looking for, be the initiator of some of those value projects. As a jumping off point, consider looking at past data and understanding where new questions may arise, where you may want to find out more. This is how you become that indispensable figure that always comes up with the brilliant exploratory project that no one had ever thought of before.

2. Willingness to say no: The flip side of the previous strategy is having the ability to refuse to take on certain projects. Being able to say, “I don’t think this will be valuable to our company. Let’s try this strategy instead to answer these questions,” shows both a partnership quality as well as a certain level of expertise. Challenge your stakeholders to understand what they want to achieve, and don’t be afraid to suggest other ways to get information without doing research. There will always be those who are skeptical of research until you can translate its value.

3. Create an annual research plan that aligns with stakeholders’ strategic plans: Get ahead of the game in understanding your organization’s strategy and how it defines success. Prioritize your project work at the beginning of each year by sitting down with the MVPs of each department and figuring out how customer intelligence will help play into the decision making process. It’s important that the annual plan includes research projects not specifically requested by stakeholders, but driven by research’s understanding of the business.

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