Do You Need a Separate Research Department?

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It’s true. Most companies blur research, marketing and sales into one big blob.  Should you?

These days, we ALL seem to have so much more riding on our product development decisions. While customer expectations are going up up up, availability of growth financing has been going down down down.  Some formerly tangible products (like books and music) are now digitally delivered, which raises the bar on customization and updating.  The global economy increases competition for even the most “locally” oriented companies.  Wal-Mart now delivers its $4.00 prescription drugs directly to the consumer’s home.  That must certainly have an impact on large chains, let alone the local community drug store.

Objective research differs greatly from message-driven marketing. It’s a completely different mindset.   There is a science behind sample size and statistical reliability and validity.

Like the IT department, a research department can get assignments from the full range of functional areas…not just marketing.  The CFO or controller may need assistance researching possible candidates for acquisition. The product development department may need assistance conducting a BETA TEST of a prototype.  The research department could be asked to measure the needs and receptivity of various target/niche markets.  The customer service department may need assistance with the objective measurement of customer satisfaction. And yes, the marketing department may need the research department to study competition, brand recognition, response to campaigns or packaging, price sensitivity, etc.

Yes, research can be outsourced.  There are several excellent research companies.

But, if your company is facing accelerated change, increased risk, intensified competition, tough judgment calls, the need to expand into new markets, etc. you may well need to establish your own research department.  If you aren’t centered, farming out miscellaneous research projects can become expensive, disjointed, and frustrating.  I have found that outside research firms respond very differently when they are retained by professional researchers (peers).

About Aldonna Ambler:
Known as The Growth Strategist®, Aldonna Ambler built and grew a suite of companies to help midsized B2B companies achieve accelerated growth with sustained profitability® A Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), Ambler has addressed over 2000 audiences and hosted a syndicated online talk show about growth strategies for 9 years. As a growth financing intermediary, Ambler raised over $1 Bil dollars for midsized companies. The winner of over 2 dozen prestigious national and statewide "entrepreneur of the year" awards, Ambler is available to speak about “profitable growth during any economy” and/or serve on the board of a growth-oriented privately-held company.

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