Posted by Reineke Reitsma on January 25, 2010
One of the key themes I saw popping up in 2009 was the need for market researchers to communicate insights instead of information (or even worse: data). I've been at a number of events where this was discussed and I followed multiple discussions in market research groups like for example Next Generation Market Research (NGMR) on LinkedIn. Personally I added to this discussion by publishing a report called The Marketing Of Market Research - Successful Communication Builds Influence.
The general consensus is that market researchers should stay away from elaborating on the research methodology and presenting research results with many data heavy slides and graphics. Instead, they should act more like consultants: produce a presentation that reads like an executive summary (maximum 20 slides or so) and starts with the recommendations. The presentation should show the key insights gained from the project, cover how these results tie back to business objectives, include alternative scenarios and advice on possible next steps.
However, another consensus from the conversations is that not all market researchers are equally well equipped to deliver such a presentation, where they're asked to translate data into insights, come up with action items, and tell a story. Most participants in the discussions agreed with the statement that the majority of market researchers still feels most comfortable when they present research outcomes (aka numbers).
One would assume that when communication skills have become such an important element of the job, market researchers would change their hiring requirements. However, a study conducted early 2009 in Forrester's market research panel shows that the majority of market researchers don't care much about applicants' writing, story telling or presentation skills.
In order to elevate market research internally, and increase this influence we're all talking about, market research departments need to hire more often people who master these communication skills (of course in combination with market research knowledge).
I'm interested in your opinion: I realize that this data is almost a year old, do you think that this has changed in the past year? Do you test for communication skills like story telling, writing, or presenting when you hire for a market research position?If so, how?