Let’s Discuss: Why Don’t Research Firms Take Their Own Advice?

Earlier this month, Steve Quirk posted about a back-and-forth he had with a couple of research firms that he wanted as advertisers. In putting the pitch on them, Steve cited research studies highlighting the effectiveness of advertising (in one case, he even presented the potential advertiser’s own research on the topic!), but in all three cases, their answers were the same: We’re not going to advertise with you. One even said, “Advertising doesn’t work!”

Now, maybe Steve wasn’t a very good salesman, or maybe he rubbed them the wrong way, but doesn’t it seem a little peculiar that, when presented with research clearly showing the benefits of advertising in his magazine, research firms still shake their heads? Doesn’t that sort of go against what they want their clients to buy into? Steve writes:

“Client companies spend vast sums investigating how to market and promote their products and services more effectively. How do their research vendors look them in the face and tell them how to allocate their marketing and research dollars when they themselves appear not to believe such expenditures are worthwhile?”

This week, Bill Guerin of Cambiar also tackled the issue of contradictions in the market research industry on GreenBook. He wonders:

“How can we routinely give exquisite advice to our clients on ways to uniquely position their brands in targeted markets, yet so many of us try to be all things to all people, struggle with defining our target markets and lack an original and compelling value proposition?”

Or how about, “What do our end clients think about us promoting to them the necessity of collecting, processing and acting on customer feedback, yet so few of us do the same with our clients?”

He’s got a point, doesn’t he? So why don’t research firms take their own advice? I have two thoughts: 1) They’re making these decisions as business owners, not professional researchers; and 2) It’s a matter of resources — there simply isn’t enough time, people and/or money to do all of the things the recommend to their clients.

What do you think? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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