Here July comes without my notice. One of the reasons might be I was too focused on my job hunting in the marketing research field.

After two years systematic study and hard work, now is the moment of truth. Job hunting can be terrifying for all newly graduates. For international students like me, it can be tougher. However, market researchers are never afraid of solving problems and dealing with challenges. From March till now, I have been actively job hunting and trying to accumulate as many interview experiences and tips as possible. I would like to share what I learned from those experiences with all the future market researchers. So here comes my new series of posts: Interview in the Market Research Field. My plan is to introduce the company I interviewed with, to share my preparation strategies, and, please forgive my nerdiness, to generalize the “patterns” of interviews in the market research field.

I want to start with my most recent interview experience for a marketing research manager position at Pile and Company. It is an innovative consulting firm focusing on agency-client relationship management in advertising and marketing. I described it as “innovative” because it is the first consulting firm I know providing services to make a bridge between ad, PR or marketing agencies and their clients, which I think is a really unique and fast-growing market niche. We all know branding, public image and perception become increasingly significant for all companies. Therefore, collaboration with related agencies is almost unavoidable.  How can the companies tell which agency is most appropriate to fulfill their needs? How can the clients evaluate the agency performances accurately without a research background? And the hardest part, how to reach an agreement with respect to compensation? Pile and Company fits right in to solve these problems.

I absorbed all information above at the very beginning of my interview preparation. I have heard a thousand times how important to research the company before the interview, but I cannot find many specific instructions and actionable recommendations. As for me, I always follow the “demand and supply” logic. Step 1: Figure out what kind of services the organization provide to its clients. Step 2: I ask myself what skills and expertise I can contribute to make the organization better serves its clients? I printed out and brought with me multiple copies of my resume, cover letter, transcript, reference list and writing sample on the interview day. I did it for all my on-site interviews. It’s more than that I can justify my qualifications by showing the materials at the appropriate time. I think the behavior itself can tell the interviewer that the candidate is a proactive and detail-oriented person. ImageImage

My interview was at 1:30 pm and I arrived half an hour earlier. I think it’s very important to get a little rest after the transportation and gradually adapt to the organizations work environment before the interview. Pile and Company has a small but exquisite office that decorated by the light green color on its logo. The recruiter who welcomed me is so friendly and considerate, which greatly eased my nervousness. During the interview, I got the chance to speak with two SVPs and an IT professional working on survey programing. I tried to organize all my answer to their questions under the “demand and supply” logic, and I think it worked pretty well. And I was glad that finally we turned the interview from a Q&A process into a smooth conversation.

To summarize, great company, nice interview experience.

As a market researcher, one major and important job is to deliver research results and corresponding recommendations to the clients. It includes both written and oral communication: writing research reports and giving final presentation. After you did all the background research, sampling, interview, data analysis, etc., now is the time to show your clients what you found. In my opinion, whether you can succeed in this final step highly depend on how much do you know about your “audience”.

Obviously, the audience is your client. No matter what kind of research you do or what problems you are asked to solve, there are three typical types of people who will review and use your deliverables from the client side.  I call them “End-user”, “Technician” and “Financer”.

Market researchers must be aware of the 3 types of audience and their distinct demands.

Market researchers must be aware of the 3 types of audience and their distinct demands.

As shown in the diagram, these 3 types of audience are different in their roles and expertise. Therefore, their focuses on market researchers’ presentation are also  distinct. Regularly, these 3 types of audience won’t be all shown up in a presentation, but sometimes they do attend the meeting together. So, the question is how a market researcher can satisfy all 3 kinds of audience in a single presentation?

The End-Users: They are usually from C-suite, like the CEOs, CMOs, or CCOs (Chief Customer Officer). They are super busy and have a lot of things in mind when digesting the messages from the presentation. Sometimes, they might join the presentation after the researcher has talked for a while, which made the situation even more challenging. However, what they expect from the presentation can be simply generalized into one question: “How can it help my vision?” They care more about the key findings and the interpretations than the data source and research process. So, make sure these key messages appear several times in the presentation, at least at the beginning as a executive summary and at the end as a summary.  If they miss those information at the beginning, they still have chance to know it somewhere else.

The Technicians: They are usually the in-house market researchers or research staff from PR/Advertising agencies that also work with your client. I call them “technicians” because they can do research by themselves, which means they know all the skills and techniques about sampling, research design, data analysis, etc. They are at the presentation to check and “question” your methodology. Therefore, we should make sure we prepare the information that they want. However, we may not explain it a lot in the presentation, especially when the “end-users” are also in the meeting. The preparation I mentioned include two things: a comprehensive research report and the anticipation of research-method-related questions in the Q&A session after the presentation.  Before you start presenting, you can explain that due to the time limit, the details of research process won’t be include in the presentation, but if the audience want to know more about it, they can get the information from the comprehensive research report or ask you in the Q&A session.

The Financiers:  They are usually the CFOs or account managers from the PR/Advertising agencies that also work for your client. The only thing they care about in the presentation is how feasible the research findings and recommendations from  finance viewpoint. In other words, what are the ROIs for the marketing strategies you suggest according to your research findings? If it is a presentation for request for proposal (RFP), then you need to show the total budget for the research and the breakdowns.

If you take into account the distinct demands of the 3 types of audience in mind when giving the presentation, you are halfway to success! Hope this post is helpful to you and I’m more than happy to hear your opinion!

I am really exciting today since I finally received my new iPad Mini!

If you have been a reader of this blog for a while, you may tell I’m not simply taking market research as a major or career,  I LOVE IT WITH MY FULL HEART! If you don’t believe what I said, simply check out the picture below : )

This iPad Mini Belongs to a Crazy Market Researcher!

LOL : b

The “Market Research Methods 101″ series is back! Today I’ll introduce the last but not least of “The Three Musketeers” in the market research world: Level of Measurement. If you have read my posts for the first two “musketeers”, you should know that I love the weight scale example (hope you also like it). It helped me explain the concepts of validity and reliability and will help you and me understand what level of measure ment in just a minute. But before that, let’s review what validity and reliability are.

Validity: the weight scale is accurately showing the weight, not showing it in a wrong way, not showing anything else

Reliability: you stood on the scale 3 times, and you got the same number of your weight 3 times.

So how can we understand level of measurement by the same example? In real life, some girls can be really strict with their weight. They feel horrible by gaining mere 1 pounds. Therefore, they would like to measure their weight as accurately as possible. They don’t want the scale simply show it’s about “100 pounds”. They want to clearly know whether it’s exactly “100” pounds or it’s actually “102” pounds. Here comes level of measurement, which shows how accurately we are measuring a concept. In market research, there are 4 levels of measurement: Nominal, Ordinal, Interval, and Ratio. Let me take the measurement of income as an example to further explain the 4 levels. I’ll first give your the measurements, so you can try to find the differences by yourself before I introduce them in detail.

Nominal: Is your family’s annual income over 50,000?   A. Yes    B. No

Ordinal: How do you describe your family’s annual income status?  A. Low-income  B. Middle-income  C. High-income

Interval: Ratings on a continuous 1-10 scale (1=very low and 10=very high), where do you think your family’s annual income fall in?

Ratio: Approximately, what is your family’s annual income? _________

Here I borrowed Dr. Philip Hodgson‘s approach to explain the 4 levels of measurement. Each level of measurement is characterized by its properties. Nominal measurement has just one property:CLASSIFICATION. Ordinal measurement has two properties: CLASSIFICATION and ORDER. Interval measurement has three properties: CLASSIFICATION, ORDER and EQUAL INTERVALS. Ratio data has four properties: CLASSIFICATION, ORDER, EQUAL INTERVALS and TRUE ZERO. Because the higher levels of measurement contain more properties and more information, they permit a wider variety of interpretations. For this reason, as a market researcher, we should always keep the following rule in mind: Always assign the highest permissible level of measurement to a given set of observations.

Another video interview about different people’s perception of market research! This time, I interviewed one of my professor who teaches market research proposal writing and presentation skills at Boston University. He is also an extremely experienced market researcher with more than 40 years experience, serving as the CEO at HawkPartners, a boutique consulting firm that helps clients make fact-based decisions to guide their marketing and brand strategies.

Sorry again about my bad camera video recording skills, but I think you will like the content : )

Video  —  Posted: May 20, 2013 in Marke Research as a Career
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If you ask me what the luckiest thing in the world is, I will tell you that is to find something you think is meaningful, you are  interested in, and you can do well and make a living on it. I feel I am the luckiest guy in the world. Not because I found my Mr. Right (hopefully, he is coming soon : b), but because I’ve already found my “lucky overlap” of the three criteria I just mentioned.

My Lucky Overlap: Why I Love Market Research So Much

My Lucky Overlap: Why I Love Market Research So Much

That is the reason I LOVE market research with PASSION AND MY FULL HEART! What is your “lucky overlap”? Have you found it yet?

Statisticians = Nerds? YOU ARE WRONG! Check out this hilarious video clip made by some enthusiastic statisticians. If you are not familiar with data analysis and basic statistical concepts, you may find this video hard to understand. If you would like to know about what those terms mean, please let me know. I can write about them in my future posts!

Ready to have some fun? Here we go!