What I Wish I Had Known Before I Started Marketing Research

If you had asked me a year ago what I thought people in marketing research did, I would have said something like “They talk to a bunch of people, get responses, and then make some recommendations based on the data.” 

And while I wasn’t totally wrong, there is way more involved than that.

I started my career off as an analyst, working in marketing research at an agency. It was nothing like what they show on Mad Men (or even Silicon Valley), but it taught me a lot about myself and the skills that I brought to the table; both good and bad.

5 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Out My Career
1. The Importance of Detailed Planning
2. Value of Customer Insights
3. Significance of Target Audience Understanding
4. Impact of Data Analysis on Decision-making
5. Role of Iteration and Testing in Strategy Refinement
6. Navigating Challenges with Flexibility
7. Value of Networking and Learning from Peers
8. Managing Expectations and Goal Setting
9. Balancing Creativity with Data-Driven Approaches
10. Embracing Continuous Learning and Adaptation

It’s Not All High-Level Strategy

Market research is not just about strategy. It’s also about execution. This is the part of marketing research that people don’t like to talk about, but it’s an important part of being a good market researcher: knowing the details and being able to explain them clearly.

As a market researcher, you’re not just advising clients on strategic decisions you’re also helping them make those decisions happen in real life. 

You need to know every detail down to how many surveys are required to get reliable data, and how long they’ll take.

Who should conduct them (and how much they’ll be paid), etc., because your recommendations will fall flat if you can’t show how your suggestions would work in practice.

If you want your work as a market researcher or analyst to have an impact and be appreciated by your company or clients (or even yourself!).

Then learn these details early on so that when it comes time for presentation day, you’ll feel confident presenting all aspects of your recommendations with confidence!

Understanding what marketing research is and how to conduct it step by step is crucial for effective decision-making. If you’re new to this, check out our comprehensive guide on What Marketing Research Is & How to Do It: Step-by-Step to get started

It’s Okay And Smart To Say No

As a marketer, you know your company best. You have a responsibility to represent it in a way that aligns with its goals and vision. That means you can’t say yes to everything; sometimes saying no (or maybe or I’m not sure) is the right answer.

It was hard for me at first I felt like I was letting down my team by not being able to do something they needed done. But now I realize that it’s okay and smart to say no when:

  • your workload is too heavy
  • the task at hand won’t lead to meeting any larger business goals or objectives
  • there are better options out there than working with this client

You Can’t Tell The Entire Story With A Graph

Graphs are a great way to visualize data, but they’re not the whole story. You can’t tell the story of a product without words. As an example, let’s look at this graph:

What does it say? It says that things went down and then back up again. What else? Not much else. 

If you don’t have any context for the graph (like knowing what was going on in the industry at that time or who was leading research efforts), there’s not much else you can glean from looking at it other than “things went down and then back up again”.

Marketing research has its guiding principles that can make a significant difference in your insights. Explore the insights on Discovering the Top 10 Rules of Marketing Research to ensure you’re on the right track.

Your Words Matter

One of the most important things you can do as a marketer is to use proper language. It’s not enough to just say what you mean; you must also use words that resonate with your audience, are accurate, and convey the message you want them to receive.

Words have the power they can build rapport and trust, or they can turn people off by making them feel misunderstood or disrespected. If a client asks me whether I think their logo is too “girly,” I might respond by saying something like: “That depends on who your target customers are.” 

This response uses words that are accurate and clear, while at the same time preparing my client for feedback that may not be what he wants to hear (in this case suggesting that his company should focus more on marketing to men).

By using words carefully, we help ourselves avoid confusion about what we mean and how our clients interpret our message which means fewer miscommunications!

Learn How To Make An Awesome Presentation

The best way to learn is by doing. Here’s a quick checklist of what you need in your presentation:

  • A lot of visuals – visual aids are the fastest way for people to learn, remember, and retain information.
  • A lot of data – helps with credibility and shows that you’re not just making things up out of thin air.
  • Stories – anecdotes and examples from the field will help bring your case studies to life!
  • Colorful slides/images/photos – this will make it more appealing for audience members who are tired or bored during presentations (we all have been there before).
  • Humor – humor can lighten up any situation if used appropriately (ie not too much). Be careful not to offend anyone though…

Learning from others’ experiences is a valuable way to improve your marketing research skills. Discover 13 Things That I Learned While Conducting My Marketing Research to gain insights from someone who’s been there.

Don’t Talk Down To People

This is a big one. Don’t talk down to people.

Don’t use jargon, or overcomplicate things to sound smart. You’re not being condescending if you explain things clearly and simply trust me, everyone will appreciate it.

The same goes for using buzzwords that are only relevant in a niche industry like yours. There are plenty of ways to get your point across without sounding like you’re trying too hard (or acting as an expert).

Be respectful of your audience’s time and attention by making sure that everything you write is clear and concise from start to finish, regardless of the length at which it was written. 

This includes website copy, marketing materials such as brochures or flyers for print distribution, social media posts on Facebook or Twitter (or whatever platforms), and employee communications such as internal memos sent out by email…you name it! 

Even if something seems simple enough where there shouldn’t be any confusion about what’s being said/written down on paper/screen; try re-reading it with fresh eyes after some time has passed.

Since originally writing it down just in case there might be something wrong with how things were said before publishing them out into public view 🙂

Consulting Is Different Than Working As A Researcher

When I started working as a consultant, I thought that the skills and knowledge I had acquired as a researcher would be enough to help me be successful in my new role. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case and it took me a while to figure out why.

The main difference between being a consultant and being a researcher is that when you’re working for yourself or on your projects (like this blog), you have complete control over what your project looks like and how it gets executed. 

But when you’re working for someone else as an employee or for an agency like mine the client has some say about what happens with their project. 

For example, if they decide to change things up halfway through without consulting you first, then all of your hard work could go down the drain!

Do What Makes Sense, Not What People Expect You To Do

I wish I had known that you should do what makes sense, not what people expect you to do.

People expect certain things from market researchers. They expect us to follow the rules and do what we’re supposed to be doing; but in reality, that doesn’t always make sense for your business.

There will always be someone who says you should be doing it another way don’t let them stop you from trying something new!

And if it does fail? Well then learn from those mistakes and keep on moving forward with something else!

Finding the right market for your product is a pivotal step in any marketing strategy. Dive into the story of How I Found the Market That Had a Demand for My Product to learn about successful market identification.

Marketing Research Isn’t Hard But It Does Require Creativity And Focus On The Details

You might be surprised to learn that marketing research isn’t hard. There are many different parts of it and they’re all fairly straightforward, but to do them well requires focusing on the very specific details that make up each part of the process.

Marketing research is about understanding consumers, markets, and competition. It’s about understanding the brand what it stands for and how it communicates its message. 

And finally, it’s a chance to understand your product when it was last updated or improved upon; what features are missing or unnecessary; where there’s room for improvement in design or function… The list goes on!

Effectiveness in advertising can make or break your marketing efforts. Learn the art of How to Distinguish Effective from Ineffective Advertising to maximize your campaigns’ impact.


We hope that our advice has helped you decide whether marketing research is right for you. If it is, we have a few last pieces of advice that might be useful. First, keep in mind that marketing research can take many forms and be used by lots of different types of people. 

It’s not just about tracking sales numbers or crunching numbers; it’s also about figuring out what motivates customers to buy things and how they think about products and services. 

And with this in mind, we suggest doing some research on the job market before applying for any positions it may not be as competitive as other industries but there are still plenty of opportunities out there!

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources to explore for further insights and knowledge:

5 Things I Wish I Would Have Known Before Starting My Marketing Agency Short Description: Gain valuable insights from a marketing agency owner’s experience and learn about the things they wish they knew before starting their agency.

7 Things I Wish I’d Known Earlier in My Marketing Career Short Description: Discover seven important lessons learned by a marketing professional over the course of their career, providing valuable advice for those entering the field.

10 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Marketing Short Description: Learn from a marketing expert’s journey as they share ten insights they wish they had known when they first began their marketing career.


What are the key lessons for starting a marketing agency?

Starting a marketing agency involves various challenges and opportunities. Some key lessons include understanding client needs, setting clear expectations, and building a strong team.

How can I accelerate my marketing career growth?

To accelerate your marketing career growth, focus on continuous learning, networking, seeking mentorship, and staying updated with industry trends and technologies.

What are the common pitfalls in early marketing efforts?

Early marketing efforts can face challenges such as improper targeting, lack of clear messaging, and underestimating the importance of data analysis for informed decision-making.

How do experienced marketers adapt to changes in the industry?

Experienced marketers adapt to industry changes by staying curious, embracing new technologies, and remaining agile in their strategies to meet evolving consumer behaviors.

What skills are essential for successful marketing professionals?

Successful marketing professionals should have strong communication, analytical, creative thinking, and problem-solving skills. Adaptability and a customer-centric mindset are also crucial in today’s dynamic landscape.