As a lead-in to the upcoming Corporate Researchers Conference (CRC), MRA conducted a brief Q&A with some of the experts scheduled to appear. We got some great answers, which should help you get to know the speakers a bit as well as whet your appetite formore.

Today’s insights are from John Ciesluk, Research Manager at Cox Target Media, whose session, “21st Century Research Support for a 21st Century Client,” will be co-presented with Ginger Lower, Senior Research Analyst at Cox Target Media.

MRA: People get into marketing research in so many different ways, sometimes by accident. How did you end up in this field and what attracted you to it?

John: While studying at the University of Central Florida, I lucked into a boutique research company, working in their call center. It gave me exposure to data collection. Research wasn’t my major or focus; this was just a good paying job. Because it was a small firm, I had more hands-on exposure to people and projects than you might find at a larger company. Later, I needed to find a job on the west coast and was fortunate to land with Nielsen as a study supervisor. My career was a gradual progression and that took it to next level.

MRA: What do you think is the biggest threat facing corporate-side research today? How can the industry deal with that?

John: I see resource availability as the biggest threat. By that I mean constantly having to do more with the same budget, as well as being able to find qualified staff outside a major market. To overcome these challenges research teams need to be more resourceful and efficient, using a lot of cross-training and streamlining of processes.

MRA: What’s the biggest opportunity for corporate-side research? Is there anything in particular that stands in the way of exploiting that opportunity?

John: Digital is the Holy Grail, the huge opportunity for corporate research. There is so much there. Lots of people are working with it, but there are not a lot of experts. We’re evolving too, learning new things, being exposed to new tools

The biggest obstacle to taking advantage of digital is the learning gap. The field is so young and so new that it presents its own challenges. Whether qualitative, quantitative, whatever; you need to dig in, get trained and get up to speed. You have to find the subject matter expert to bring in-house if those skills aren’t already on staff.

MRA: Since you began working in research, do you think the institutional value/reputation of corporate researchers has increased, decreased or remained the same? Why?

John: At our company, the institutional value of corporate research has increased exponentially. It’s all about the branding and what you bring to the table in positioning yourself and your department to solve organizational and business problems. The trick is not to throw reports around and hope people read them. Take the time to present and review what you have learned and collaborate on solutions.

MRA: Thinking of your day-to-day work and responsibilities, what is one important element of your job that’s “broken” or dysfunctional? Assuming you had necessary resources, how would you change that?

John: I wish we had more time for training and development. Working with the same resources and doing more takes its toll over time. Corporate researchers need time for skill development for themselves, their teams and their departments. We do what we can through webinars and online training, but there never seems to be enough time for conferences, networking, seminars or other formal education.

MRA: How can corporate researchers better sell the value of what they do within their organizations?

John: Make sure that your research is intelligible and simple enough so that everyone from a marketing analyst to the CEO can understand and use it. Simplification is key. Brand yourself and your department as subject experts and make sure everyone within your company knows that you have expertise in a certain field and discipline.