If your year is anything like mine, it has been a whirlwind of work, fun and snow…lots and lots of snow. My hope is that you are now experiencing the warmth of spring!

Obviously this corporate researcher issue is near and dear to my heart. Initially coming from the supplier side – and then diving in head first into the corporate researcher pool – was both eye-opening and challenging. As a corporate researcher, one of the key things I learned was that our role is to tell the story of our consumer and represent them in every meeting we attend. It is not only a role that requires an ability to develop insights out of observations but also to be a strategic thinker, defender of our consumers’ needs, negotiator and problem solver.

I can only speak for myself, but the relationships I have with research partners are vital to being successful in my role. “Partnership” really is the key idea. They are not just suppliers or vendors. What differentiates a partner from a supplier is their willingness to be able to pull up from the data and see the bigger picture. Obviously they can’t know all the ins and outs of what is going on internally, but their ability and willingness to listen to the story behind the research and then tell the consumer story with those goals in mind make my job just a little bit easier.

Receiving the research report is, most often, the end of the journey for my research partner. However, for me, it is just the beginning. Taking that information and delivering it to my team in a way that is understandable, retainable and actionable is the key to the successful use of consumer insights. If it is not easily digestible, it becomes a report on the shelf that collects dust.

When an insight is actionable for a team, it becomes the north star of the project. If your product/service cannot deliver on the insight then it is back to the drawing board. It is the journey of seeing a product or service hit the marketplace and meet a consumer need that gives me the most satisfaction. Knowing something was delivered to consumers based on their actual need, as opposed to what was easiest for the company to do, is so rewarding.

MRA can help you succeed, too. I cannot encourage you enough to make time in your crazy schedule to attend MRA’s Insights & Strategies Conference (ISC) in June and the Corporate Researchers Conference (CRC) in September, both to be held in Chicago. My challenge to those attending is to really listen to the story the speakers are sharing with you and look for the key insights that drove their journey. We are so lucky that our careers are endlessly fascinating. People can amaze and surprise you every day and as a corporate researcher it is our job to make sure our companies amaze and surprise them right back.