I want to be a unicorn. 

Or, better yet, an oracle. But my mental picture of an oracle is much fuzzier than that of a unicorn. Either way, I — more specifically, my discipline — want to be seen as special, unique, highly sought out, multi-talented in a way that rarely exists in a single entity, necessary for the well-being of the whole body and is considered to provide wise and insightful counsel.

So, I proclaim that my discipline is the Oracle of Prudentia (Latin: prudence, wisdom, knowledge or discretion).

Not So Lofty

While it sounds lofty it really is pretty down-to-earth. It’s a great spot to begin a journey and a great spot to which to return for a refreshment of knowledge.

I am not describing myself personally. Rather, I’m describing the role market research plays within the architecture of your marketing discipline.

Data abounds. It’s plentiful. It’s desired — sort of. Many marketing and business professionals espouse and preach the importance of good data and claim to be “data-driven.” But in many cases, it’s superficial. They don’t look deeply enough to really understand what the numbers say. They don’t look to really understand the nuances of segmented human consuming behavior. 

The ability to capture behavioral and attitudinal information — and to quickly process the input — is more efficient than ever. Artificial Intelligence can assess sentiment so researchers can ask deeper, more probing questions. And the ability to test ideas, gain reactions to innovation, understand how communications are really being interpreted and so much more happen at lightning speed. 

Rely on Your Gut, Facts or Both?

We sometimes say that we work best where instincts and insights come together. This makes it easier, faster and more economical to be intelligent in your decision-making process. You can — and should — turn to the oracle as often as possible. Don’t ignore your instincts but don’t act on instinct and anecdotal information alone.

So why are so many business leaders and marketers afraid of research? Do they think they know enough — or worse yet — everything? Do they think it takes too long? That it’s a waste of time or somehow impedes progress?

2020 accelerated changes in research methods. Much change was already in the air, but many of the decades-old traditional approaches seemed to still be in the driver’s seat. But then, our standard methods for having personal, in-depth discussions with real people were off-limits — or even dangerous. 

Are You Adapting or Are You Stuck?

Ahead of the madness of the last year, researchers should have been adapting to the changing communication behaviors of the consuming population, adopting new methods and using traditional methods where appropriate. In other words, filling the toolbox with anything and everything that works so they’d know what tool to use when and where necessary. Rather, many researchers were caught off guard by the shift in their discipline. 

One of our clients — a cultural attraction — has been gaining visitor insights through traditional focus groups and on-site visitor intercepts. Neither approach was prudent in 2020. We had to find a way to capture insights once visitors were allowed back into the venue. We turned to virtual everything. Well, almost. 

In order to solidify the evolving visitor profile, both demographically and psychographically, we used geo-framing over different time periods e.g., days or time of day. We also deployed online focus groups — something we have had in our arsenal for more than a decade — with segmented audiences on a variety of subjects; online surveys, again with segmented audiences on a variety of subjects; and finally, on-site, self-administered satisfaction-gathering kiosks. All of this was so we could quickly and constantly have the right information to provide the client and to our strategic team in order to make the best-informed decisions. The best part is that it was timely, and didn’t break the bank to boot!

It takes Commitment and Stamina to Stay Relevant

Going to the oracle takes commitment, a commitment that is really an extension of your commitment to your continued marketing success. Be strategic. Do not be afraid. Have realistic expectations around succinct objectives. If you do those things you will return to the oracle time and again. You’ll hesitate to move forward without being properly armed by the wisdom of the oracle. 

Stay relevant. Stay informed. Trust innovative scientific research methods. Be fast. Be nimble. Be budget conscious. 

Be smart. 

Trust the Oracle of Prudentia. It’s the prudent thing to do.