What I’ve Learned About Marketing Research Since Working At A Consulting Firm

So, I’ve finally done it. I’ve joined the ranks of the marketing research consultants at my firm and have been working with clients for about a month now. 

I thought it would be appropriate to reflect on some of the lessons I’ve learned so far, in hopes that you can learn from my mistakes or simply find inspiration in knowing that you’re not alone in your struggles. Here’s what I’ve found to be true, so far:

McKinsey Case Interview Example – Market Study – YouTube
Key Takeaways
Importance of storytelling in marketing research.
Cold hard facts are essential for improving blog performance.
Steps to become a successful market research analyst.
Strategies for effective B2B lead generation.
Determining the optimal number of visitors for ad campaign testing.

Large Research Projects Require A Lot Of Resources

The resources you need for a large research project are many, and include people, time, money, technology, and data. A few examples of how you might need more resources:

More Participants 

If your research involves asking questions of hundreds or thousands of people from different places and cultures (for example), then it will require more time to recruit these participants. You may also need to compensate them for their time. 

This means that either you or the client will need to find a way to pay them all at once (or in smaller increments). 

For example, if we were doing this research ourselves with our funds rather than those offered by clients (and they were willing) we could use online crowdsourcing sites like Mechanical Turk as well as college students who want extra cash on the side while they work on their projects. 

The benefit is that it would allow us access to anyone anywhere around the world at any given moment without having spent any money upfront; 

However, because there isn’t much vetting process involved with this option there could be issues later down the line when processing results because someone had an agenda rather than just trying hard enough until something sticks…

If something doesn’t seem right about what someone says don’t trust it blindly even if every other person in their demographic group confirms its veracity!

In the realm of marketing research, stories have the power to captivate and engage like nothing else. Discover how effective storytelling can elevate your research insights in our article on The Power of Storytelling in Marketing Research.

More Days 

Large projects often have multiple phases which require different types/levels of effort focused over different lengths of time; 

Therefore they call for longer periods during which data collection will occur before being complete so make sure everyone knows what needs to be done when before starting up again after some sort break period such as vacationing abroad!

You Need To Be Extra Diligent About Calling People Back

With all the hustle, it can be easy to forget that there are people on the other end of your survey who you need to call back. 

It’s important to remember that people want their headcounts and want them now. If you don’t get in touch with people and get clarification on their answers, they’ll likely resent you for wasting their time.

Here are some tips on how I’ve found success in making sure I follow up with clients:

Turning your blog into a high-performing asset requires data-driven insights. Dive into our guide on obtaining the cold hard facts for blog improvement to uncover strategies that can elevate your blogging game.

Use The Phone! 

Emails are great for sending reminders and asking follow-up questions but nothing beats a good old-fashioned phone call when it comes time to follow through on something. 

Call within 24 hours of receiving an email or letter from a client (if possible) and see if they have any questions or comments about the work we did together. 

This can help build rapport with clients who might otherwise feel like “just another number” in your spreadsheet or project plan.


People are busy! Don’t wait too long between sending out emails asking about surveys/callbacks/etc., then send another reminder about 48 hours later; then try again 72 hours after first contact, etc., until someone responds positively or negatively (or not at all).

The Results Are Not Always What You Expect

When you’re conducting research, you can often expect the results to be surprising. However, there are times when the results aren’t as unexpected as you might hope. 

For example, maybe your client is looking for advice on how they can increase sales by offering consumers more products with free shipping and returns (aka FRSR). 

You conduct your research and find that customers don’t want FRSR because they prefer cheaper shipping costs over free returns. 

This isn’t exactly shocking or unexpected news most people would prefer lower prices to pay for something twice but it certainly isn’t good news for your client’s bottom line either!

Another thing that can make results less than surprising is when a company has already done its research using traditional methods such as focus groups or surveys before hiring us to do additional testing with our methodologies like card sorting or A/B testing. 

This means we’re not going into our projects with any preconceived notions about what will happen; instead, we come at things objectively with an open mind and see what happens…which means sometimes our findings are completely different than those of other firms!

Final Details Like The Deck Design Matter

It’s tempting to just slap together a deck and send it off for feedback. The design is the first thing people see, so this should be given extra consideration. 

Your presentation is the only thing that matters at this point, and everything else has been covered in previous sections of this article (researched topic; research methodology; data analysis).

In general, keep your deck simple. The fewer colors you use on each slide, the better! It can be very effective if used sparingly at strategic times during your presentation.

Use a professional font like Arial or Calibri when possible; make sure all text is easy to read don’t use Times New Roman or Comic Sans! 

Don’t forget about headings either: they should stand out from body text but not distract from the content itself (you want them to guide users through their reading experience). Remember that visuals are important here as well.

Use charts when appropriate because they help break up long passages of text while providing relevant information quickly and easily visually instead of having someone read every sentence aloud until they understand what’s being said.”

Embarking on a career as a market research analyst? Our comprehensive guide on becoming a market research analyst offers valuable insights into the skills, education, and steps necessary to thrive in this dynamic field.

You Have To Get Comfortable In Front Of An Audience

You need to be able to speak clearly and confidently, whether that means talking about your findings or explaining what you’re thinking about and how to apply them. If you can’t do it in public, how can you expect anyone else to?

You also have to be prepared for questions a lot of questions as well as the occasional curveball thrown by a smart client who knows they’re getting screwed over by their current provider. 

That’s part of being a consultant: knowing when something won’t work (or isn’t working), and being willing to push back against an idea that isn’t worth pursuing.

It’s Okay To Ask For Help

I know you’re probably thinking, “I can do this on my own.” Well, yeah. You can. But don’t forget about asking for help when it’s needed.

It’s okay to ask for help with a difficult task or client it shows that you are aware of your weaknesses and are willing to improve yourself by taking the initiative and asking others for help.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you’re struggling with a difficult assignment or project at work. 

Your boss will see that as an opportunity to advance your career while also maintaining their image as someone who takes care of their employees by providing them with the resources they need to succeed in the long run (i.e., getting promoted).

Just Because You’re Working On One Thing Doesn’t Mean You Don’t Have Other Work Piling Up

Even if you’re working on one thing, there’s a very real possibility that other things will pile up on your desk. You can’t do everything at once, so you need to prioritize. 

And even if you do prioritize, it’s not like the work will go away because it’s been put on hold for a while.

When this happens, I find myself being pulled in multiple directions and feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of tasks I have in front of me at any given time. 

When I’m feeling this way about my workload, I try to take some time out for myself not just to clear my head but also so that I don’t burn out from doing too much without taking care of myself first!

Marketing Research Isn’t That Similar To Traditional Business Consulting

Marketing research is a lot like business consulting in that you’re working with a client, but it’s also very different. In many cases, marketing research projects have more in common with science and research than they do with traditional business consulting.

Here are some examples:

Marketing research is more like a puzzle than it is like business consulting. You’re trying to figure out what’s going on within the market and how you can use that information to gain an advantage for your client.

Marketing research often feels more like detective work than traditional business consulting does because you’ll usually be looking for clues about what people are saying.

Or doing when they buy things (or don’t buy things) related to your client’s product or service as well as other factors that affect their purchase decisions (e.g., price).

Marketing research often feels similar to treasure hunting because there tends to be an element of uncertainty associated with how well your findings will translate into actionable insights for improving sales results.

And, whether those improvements will happen, depends partly on your ability (and willingness) as a researcher/consultant/adviser/etcetera…

Generating targeted leads is crucial for B2B success. Explore our article on finding 100 targeted B2B leads monthly to uncover innovative strategies that can supercharge your lead generation efforts.

Always Look For Problems With The Logic In Client Deliverables

As a market research analyst, you need to be a critical thinker. You need to look for problems with the logic in client deliverables. 

This is necessary because there are many cases where clients do not ask the right questions if their data is incorrect (or they just don’t even have enough data).

When I was working at my first marketing research consultancy firm, I learned how to spot these flaws and it wasn’t easy! But by looking for them, we were able to improve our processes and fine-tune our reports so that they were more valuable to our clients.

Don’t Be Afraid To Show Some Excitement And Personality In Client Presentations

One of the most important things I’ve learned since working as a marketing researcher is to be excited and personable when presenting your findings to clients. Don’t be afraid to show some personality it will make all the difference in their impression of you.

When it comes to work-life balance, I’ve learned that following your lead is the best way for everyone involved. If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, taking time off and not checking email for a few days isn’t going to cause harm (or even really affect productivity). 

It’s also okay not being able to do everything yourself it’s okay if you ask for help from coworkers or even friends outside of work! 

You will meet and interact with many interesting people along the way (and those interactions might just come back around when they need your services!).

We Aren’t All Cut Out To Be Consultants

Before you dive into a career in marketing research, it’s important to understand what you’re getting yourself into. As a consultant, your responsibilities are going to be very different from your colleagues in the same company who do traditional marketing jobs. 

You’ll have more freedom and flexibility than they do (which can be both good and bad), and you may find that being on the road all day isn’t for you.

Here are some things I’ve learned since working at a consulting firm:

Being comfortable with being uncomfortable is key you never know what might come up during a project; the client might request an addition or deletion of questions mid-project; 

Or you could get stuck without internet access for two days! It’s important to learn how to roll with these punches so that they don’t throw off your entire workflow.

Flexibility is another essential trait for consultants you need to adapt quickly when clients change their minds about certain aspects of the project.

Patience is also crucial sometimes things just don’t go according to plan (and sometimes they do!), but either way, it’s best not to rush through any part of the process if at all possible! Working solo means learning how best to communicate verbally as well as nonverbally

You Will Meet A Lot Of Interesting People Along The Way

One of the most important things I’ve learned in my time at a consulting firm is that you will meet a lot of interesting people along the way. You will learn a lot from them, have fun, make some great friends and even learn a little bit about yourself.

One of the first people I met when I started at a consulting firm was an intern who had been here for two weeks already. He was very outgoing and friendly; he had this cool job working with all these amazing people on an incredibly important project. 

He seemed like someone who knew everything about marketing research and business know-how so naturally, I asked him for advice about what to do next with my career path.

He told me that if he could go back in time he would tell himself not to be afraid of asking questions because no matter how stupid or silly they may seem sometimes there are no dumb questions there are only dumb answers!

Follow Your Lead When It Comes To Work-Life Balance

Don’t feel bad if, like me, you work too much. Don’t let yourself get down on yourself for not being able to find the right balance between work and life. 

There are many different ways to approach this goal and no one way is right or wrong. Find a balance that works for you one that allows you time with friends, family, and whatever else makes you happy or feels important in your life.

The only piece of advice I can offer is this: don’t let either work or life take over either family or career goals. Because at some point in your life, everything will fall apart and it’s important to remember what matters most before it all comes crashing down around you

There Is No Such Thing As A ‘typical Work Day’

Finally, you should be prepared for the fact that there is no such thing as a “typical work day.” You’ll have to be flexible and adaptable, as you will likely be traveling often and working with people from all over the world. 

In addition to this, it can also be stressful at times (in my case, because I was working on several projects simultaneously).

So if you’re looking for a job where you can travel around the country/world and meet new people every day of your life while getting paid well? Marketing research might just be right up your alley!

Optimizing your ad campaigns requires rigorous testing. Check out our insights on determining the right number of visitors for ad campaign testing to make informed decisions that maximize your advertising impact.

It Takes A Little Time For Clients To Warm Up To You But Once They Do, It’s Great

I’ve learned that it takes a little time for clients to warm up to you. But once they do, it’s great.

When I started consulting, I was afraid of asking questions because I didn’t want to look stupid or waste anyone’s time. Now, I find myself asking questions every day! 

If something doesn’t make sense or if there’s something that we need help with, we just ask someone else in our team. 

If a client asks me a question and I don’t know the answer (which hasn’t happened yet), then we talk about how best we can get answers for them and go from there.

Also, showing some personality goes a long way! It makes people feel more comfortable around each other when they’re working together on projects like this one here today sorry about getting distracted again by those super cute puppies though…


All in all, I’ve learned that marketing research is an extremely important aspect of developing a successful business. 

It has been interesting to learn about the impact data can have on business decisions and how it can save a company so much time by leveraging existing information rather than spending the effort building from scratch. I’m looking forward to learning more about this field!

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources to enhance your understanding of marketing research and consulting:

Consulting Is More Than Giving Advice Short Description: Explore this Harvard Business Review article that delves into the multifaceted nature of consulting, emphasizing that effective consulting goes beyond offering advice to clients.

5 Things I Have Learned About Market Research Careers Short Description: Discover valuable insights from market research professionals about career paths and learnings in the field of market research.

Should I Hire a Market Research Firm? Short Description: This blog post discusses the considerations and benefits of hiring a market research firm to help you make informed decisions for your business strategies.


What are the key elements of effective consulting?

Effective consulting involves a thorough understanding of a client’s needs, offering actionable solutions, building rapport, and providing ongoing support to ensure successful implementation.

What are some essential skills for a successful career in market research?

A successful career in market research requires strong analytical skills, attention to detail, excellent communication, proficiency in data analysis tools, and the ability to translate insights into actionable recommendations.

How can a market research firm add value to my business?

A market research firm can provide specialized expertise, unbiased insights, access to advanced research methodologies, and a fresh perspective that can help your business make well-informed decisions.

What factors should I consider before hiring a market research firm?

Before hiring a market research firm, consider your budget, the firm’s industry expertise, track record, the scope of services they offer, and whether their approach aligns with your business goals.

How does consulting differ from giving advice?

Consulting involves a comprehensive approach, encompassing analysis, problem-solving, and collaboration with clients to develop tailored strategies. Giving advice, on the other hand, often focuses on providing suggestions without extensive involvement in implementation.