I have seen a couple of discussions on the relative importance of marketing/PR qualifications and concern from professionals that individuals with a fairly narrow skillset are actually advising businesses incorrectly because they only understand digital marketing platforms or how to write a press release. In some cases software providers encourage a do it yourself approach.
This should be a concern for businesses like my own as sophisticated clients are the bedrock of my work, but because market research has been through this process in the past I thought I would put my own experiences down.
Technology has been a real benefit for the industry and has broadened market research so that even small businesses should be conducting some research on some level and hitherto costly processes like ethnography and A/B testing can be done relatively cheaply.
As a result professionals need to re-skill, not just update their skills more frequently (my medium and long term training plans are more detailed than my business plan) and adapt to the future. Collaboration is also important – I may be able to interrogate a CRM and create nice dashboards but analysing a customer base using customer lifetime value or using a hidden Markov model is beyond me.
Knowledgeable clients and those who appreciate expertise will always seek professional advice particularly as without some knowledge of sampling frames, quality assurance or the right statistical tests to use can render research as ineffective.
There will always be companies peddling snake oil in any profession – one of the most frequent I hear is that you only ever need to ask 3 questions of customers or that technology has made an industry obsolete. Those that buy these solutions probably do not attach much value to what you do anyway.
Caveat Emptor – let the buyer beware; as a professional I would always prefer a knowledgeable or appreciative client and I see this a qualifying leads before they ever come to me.
Yes the ego is a little bruised but the benefits of reducing the marketplace to a more manageable level is worth its weight in gold.