Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Once Upon a Time…They Lived Happily Ever After: An Old Research Dog’s Story about Storytelling in Market Research

When I was a young pup in the market research industry, circa 1985, I was in graduate school working on my doctorate in psychology and serving as a graduate student intern at JC Penney headquarters in Manhattan on 8th Avenue across from the Winter Graden where Cats had been playing for years and years. It was a very exciting time in my life as I was juxtaposed between “book life” and “school life.” Every day I toggled between the conceptual and the practical in my pursuit of becoming a research professional.

At Fordham University, I was trained to write like an academician. At JC Penney, I was criticized for doing so, and urged to write simply, succinctly, and to do so in a style that would enable the reader to become enmeshed in the words I put forth. I must admit, it was a battle that was waged, in my head, and I allowed the academic side to win. I thought, if my writing style reflected intelligence by using multi-syllabic, highfalutin language, others would see me as smart. Boy, was I stupid. I had no intention of becoming a professor; rather had set my sights only on being a practitioner. But I couldn’t help leading with my degree to tell, without saying, to everyone in a room that I was highly educated. Throughout my internship, I never strayed from that posture and, in hindsight, it never benefited me.

Then I graduated and went to work for a large advertising agency in NY. Early on, I literally got my ass kicked by writing reports in a style that was better suited to publication in a scholarly journal. But I was no longer an intern; now I was a paid employee and was working on studies that were delivered at high cost to our clients. Needless to say, my boss was not patient with my learning curve as a struggled to write reports, and even questionnaires, that were easy to understand and digest.

As time went by, I was assigned to a new boss who took me under his wing and worked with me closely. I’ll never forget one (late) night at the office working on a report that needed to be delivered before deadline when he said “your report needs to read like you are telling a story.” It needs a beginning that draws in the reader, a middle that states what the study found, and an end that draws conclusions and provides closure to the reader on the subject matter such that he or she takes away the key learnings of what the study was designed to discover. In essence, the whole report must be a story that leaves the client with clarity on what decisions need to be made to drive business and why.

That experience was a career milestone for me. It was a great lesson that, not only provided the motivation to improve, but taught me the lesson that my work was not about me. Rather, it forced me to stare straight into the eyes of the main purpose of what I was doing -- helping clients figure out how to improve their own businesses. It finally dawned on me that storytelling was the way I was going to practice my profession. As a psychologist, I was trained to be compelled to help my clients in any way I could, and so I took this lesson about storytelling and ran with it.

Fast forward to nowadays.

Another important ingredient in our farm-to-table recipe for qual recruiting include the meticulous scrutiny we bring to bear on our clients’ screeners. In the spirit of farm-to-table quality in our recruiting services, we carefully vet screeners to ensure they provide operation al definitions of the target population members to be recruited. This way, clients get exactly what they ordered and recruiting projects run smoothly without surprises.

At Accelerant Research, our team of recruiters are well trained to be sensitive to these conditions of lying and faking, and require all potential participants to provide anecdotes and even artifacts (photos, etc.) to validate their usage of or experience with the study topic. We pay close attention to their “stories” and probe them to clarify or expand their answers. In the end, we provide quality recruits that are both qualified and articulate.

We invite you to request a cost estimate from us as a first step. Simply give us a call (704-206-8500) or send us an email (info@accelerantresearch.com). If we are granted the opportunity to work with you, we are confident that the quality of recruiting service you receive will be a marked improvement.

Good luck and safe travels.