This is the third in a series of posts where we’ve interviewed business owners and leaders from across our industry to help get an understanding of how top firms look at and utilize marketing & sales for their firms.
Merrill, tell us a little about your firm.
“M/A/R/C Research is a full-service market research firm that has just celebrated its 51st year in business. We combine proven research models with innovative approaches to deliver targeted solutions to consumer, prescriber, channel and B2B marketing questions. The result – stronger innovation, dedicated customers, and industry-leading brands. Staffed with the most experienced minds in the industry, we deliver research that provides answers instead of data. From one-on-one deep dives to accurate predictions of in-market outcomes, our seasoned professionals design research that targets the need and delivers the strategy.”
I’ve been saying for years that Market Research is an industry that does not embrace marketing & sales. Do you agree or disagree… and why?
“I agree 100%! My belief is most researchers have NEVER been comfortable selling or marketing their company. For years (and decades) business just flowed in, based on a great reputation… so selling and marketing was never really needed. Today, that isn’t the case – the industry is now clearly a buyer’s market and the companies with solid sales teams and creative marketing are growing their businesses and winning more often.”
M/A/R/C is recognized as a firm that does a good job with marketing & sales. Give us an overview of the kinds of marketing & sales things that you do?
“Since I am not a researcher, and my background is in new business development, that is what we gravitate to a little more than most research suppliers. We have a dedicated sales team that has goals that are beyond revenue or profitability. We base a number of goals on activities like meetings, proposals or new clients that seems to be working. We also align our new business development goals with company strategies – meaning that we set goals in areas that we want to focus on like a certain methodology or vertical and compensate accordingly.”
If you create and work from a marketing and/or sales plan, describe that process.
“Yes, we have both a sales plan and a marketing plan. Some of the highlights of the marketing plan are industry ads, conference attendance, sponsorship opportunities and involvement with college MMR programs. We have a pretty thorough sales plan that includes goals by Account Manager/salesperson, Account, new clients and a few goals by different methodologies that we believe will move our business forward.”
Does ‘strategy’ play a role in your marketing & sales? If so, how do you find the right strategies… and how do you use them?
“Great question. Being in the industry for 30+ years, I have made every mistake in the book. The key is to learn from those mistakes, not make them again and if something isn’t working – don’t take forever to make a decision and tweak the strategy. In addition, you really need to pay attention to the digital space and understand the metrics on your website and online traffic to ensure you are positioning your company correctly; and buying the right words (if that is a strategy you use) to ensure you are at the top of the page for searches.”
As the MR industry changes, how do you see marketing & sales changing for us in the next 3-5 years?
“For me the biggest change will be with the use of video. I just presented at a conference last week and emphasized the use of video in presentations and proposals. Most people haven’t done this yet and when we do it or speak to clients/prospects about it, they get really jazzed up!”
Advice time: If an MR firm is not very engaged in marketing & sales – but the leadership knows they should be – what would you say are the top 3 things they need to do to get started?
“Number one… Start yesterday – this strategy can only help move your enterprise forward. Second, evaluate what you are doing… constantly! And finally, ask your clients for help… ask them what strategies they believe are working now that you should incorporate, ask them to review several ads and let you know the one that works for them! By asking for help, your clients will feel important and that is only a good thing.”
Great stuff, Merrill… thank you.
By the way, Merrill writes one of the most widely-read blogs in our industry. Check it out at: http://www.marcresearch.com/blogs/merrill/