“Plato is dear to me, but dearer still is truth.” – Aristotle
In a job interview several years ago, I was asked about the role of marketing research inside an organization. I don’t recall the exact question, but I had anticipated the type of question and was prepared to answer. I also don’t recall my exact response, but I’m sure it was something like this:
“The role of marketing research inside the corporation is to better understand and interpret the needs, desires and motivations of customers or potential customers and deliver them in a way that enables executive management to make well-informed decisions that grow the business.”
I still think that would be a technically sound answer, but if asked a similar question today, my response would start in a different place. I would start with a simple, foundational philosophy I believe is essential for the insights or marketing research function to work. This philosophy is simple enough to be summarized in two bullet points. As a leader in the insights/research function, I need to deliver on two promises:
- I won’t lie to you
- I won’t lie for you
That’s it. To be effective in everything else we do in the insights and research business, we have to start with these simple promises. Without this foundation, the end goal of driving decisions that grow an organization can’t happen. Of course, it is easy to say we are in the truth business, but delivering on it is often very difficult.
To deliver on these two promises, we must also deliver on all the fundamentals (sample quality, minimization of bias, clear reporting, etc.) of our profession. It also means very high standards for the way work is handled after it is finished. It means, even though good news is always easier to deliver, we won’t let ease drive our decisions.
If you agree with this foundational philosophy, it also means that–like Aristotle–you may have to choose whether the truth or a client (or boss or colleague) is more dear to you and you may want to read one of my earlier posts: Are you Lonely Enough?
Do you have a philosophy, motto or guiding principle related to the insights function? I would love to hear it. Please post a comment here or comment on Twitter and mention @DanWomack in your message.