This post is contributed by Karla Ahern and Kit Nordmark, Burtch Works’ marketing research and consumer insights recruiting specialists.
As experts in marketing research and insights recruiting, clients often ask us for guidance when it comes to job descriptions and how to best communicate a role on paper. Whether you’re part of a large Fortune 50 company with a long-established research group, or a startup organization building out a team, writing the perfect description for an open role can be an intimidating task.
Every company and team is different, and a job description should be tailored for each position to both describe the role at hand, as well as the backgrounds and experience required for the position. This post isn’t meant to serve as an all-encompassing directive, but we want to share some examples to get you thinking and provide a springboard to help you to craft a job description that reflects your specific needs within your organization.
What to Include in Marketing Research Job Descriptions – an overview:
Before getting into specifics and bulleted content, think about the role holistically and the exact position you’re trying to fill within the organization. At the highest level, any job description should cover:
1. Position scope and responsibilities
What will this person do day-to-day? Monthly? Annually? Will this person be hands-on leading research? Assisting as part of a project team? Or working with vendors to manage research? Make sure to include details so the reader gets an idea of what the role will entail.
2. Skills, requirements, backgrounds needed
What expertise will this person need on day 1, vs. what can they potentially learn on the job? Use specifics and be clear around what’s absolutely necessary to succeed in the role, and what may be more of a nice-to-have skill. Try not to fall victim to including skills and tools that are popular but won’t actually be needed in the role. Qualified candidates may be dissuaded from applying if they see skills such as predictive modeling or R listed on the job description when in reality these will be handled by the analytics team.
3. Position within the organization
Where does this role fall within the broader organization? Is it part of the marketing team within a client-side organization? Will it be working on a specific portfolio of products or brands? Or on the supplier-side, will it be dedicated to a specific practice or client vertical?
4. Detailed bullet points adapted to the specific role
These professionals are often innately curious and researchers at heart, so they appreciate detailed information! Make sure to include distinction based on seniority or position level if necessary. (i.e. if it’s a Research Analyst or Associate Manager, clarify whether the position will be assisting in research projects or in a support role, vs. leading initiatives and managing client relationships.) It also may be helpful to list the size of the team and to whom the position will be reporting to.
Now that you’re ready to tackle a job description, let’s get into the specific content you may want to consider. We’ve organized this marketing research job description post into two parts for easier perusing. For Part 1, this first post will help you think about tasks and responsibilities you can incorporate to ensure your job description describes the specific role and what the position will entail.
Then we’ll follow this blog with Part 2, a second section that will focus on examples of qualifications and skillsets that are required vs. those that may be preferred. In our experience, the most successful hiring processes are the ones that favor a give-and-take approach in lieu of using the job description as a definitive checklist.
How to Describe Marketing Research Job Tasks
Overall tasks and responsibilities
In a nutshell, research and insights professionals work to understand business questions and needs, and then leverage research to provide actionable insights. Some examples include:
- Utilize a variety of information and data sources, plus internal resources, to develop insights, providing a competitive advantage for the organization
- Develop clear, actionable recommendations that guide business strategy and drive growth and/or new product development
- Create actionable insights to inform strategy and accelerate informed data-driven decision-making through research, consumer trend tracking, and competitive/market intelligence
- Develop the connection between a business issue/opportunity, key hypotheses, and research objectives/methodologies
Designing compelling research
Whether it’s a client- or supplier-side position, most will be fairly hands-on (depending on seniority) with creating research plans or strategies to address internal or external clients’ needs. Some examples include:
- Develop and lead holistic, comprehensive research plans; ensure projects are designed to ask the right research questions and address important business issues
- [Client-side] Understand internal business units’ objectives and translate into RFP to bid out to vendor partners
- [Supplier-side] Understand client objectives and create research proposals to outline recommended research plan design, specific methodologies, schedule, and budget
- [Supplier-side; some client-side] Create survey questionnaires or discussion guides, development of sampling strategy, analysis/tabulation plans, and quality control to assess accuracy and completeness
Managing research projects
Most research positions have some project management responsibilities, and it generally varies by seniority. Some examples include:
- Lead research related to primary/secondary sources of marketplace trend data
- Manage the design and execution of a mix of primary market research projects; effectively share results to facilitate data-driven decision making
- Coordinate full life-cycle research, ensuring quality, timeliness, scheduling/oversight of field operations, survey programming/fielding, data processing, and reporting
Examples of research methodologies, techniques, and tools
Most positions in the field will be working on specific types of research to gather insights. It will vary by company and position, and some general buckets include:
- Quantitative: A&U, Innovation, Concept Testing, Product Development, Drivers/Barriers Segmentation, Brand Positioning, Brand Health/Equity Tracking, Advertising/Communications Testing, Copy Testing, Effectiveness/Measurement, VOC, Customer Experience, Pricing & Promotions work, etc.
- Qualitative: Focus Groups, IDIs, in-context research, ethnography, online qual, etc.
- Communities: Bulletin board research, online diaries, quick-turnaround quantitative, etc.
- Syndicated and/or Category Management: Nielsen, IRI, POS data, Panel data, NPD, category/competitive assessments, etc.
- UX: Usability testing, user experience research, etc.
- Tools: Qualtrics, Survey Monkey, Sawtooth, Tableau, Advanced Excel (VLOOKUP, Pivot Tables, etc.), SPSS; MaxDiff, Discrete Choice, Conjoint, Regression, multi-variate testing, Van Westendorp, etc.
Once data has been collected, researchers need to know how to connect the dots, what it means for an organization, and how companies can use insights to guide decision making. Some examples include:
- Design custom analysis plan; develop final written reports and engaging presentations
- Synthesize disparate data from custom research, secondary research, and a mix of other sources to uncover insights, create a story to drive insights into action, and provide recommendations
- Communicates research findings to end clients or internal business units and key stakeholders; help socialize research to ensure learnings will be used throughout the organization
Management responsibilities – internal team/budget, external vendors, or clients
Most research roles have at least one element of management, with some overseeing multiple areas. Here are some examples underneath each subsection:
- Managing a research budget/team:
- Manage full P&L; responsible for managing annual research budget, negotiate with vendors to maximize value
- Manage, develop, and oversee analysts and junior team members; responsible for individual growth plans, annual reviews, and regular feedback loops for all direct reports
- Serve as mentor for junior researchers; share existing knowledge and experience with staff; leverage expertise to guide or direct junior researchers
- Managing research supplier/vendors:
- [Client-side] Investigate and select vendors via RFP process for each research project to ensure quality research deliverables; manage vendor partners to ensure work is high quality, on time, and within budget
- [Supplier-side] Partner with vendors for sample, qualitative recruiting, focus group/facility rental, or external analysis teams as needed; ensure flawless execution
- [Client/Supplier-side] Oversee supplier/vendor relationships by setting a clear understanding of project scope, budget, and deliverables
- Managing and servicing internal/external clients:
- [Client-side] Partner cross-functionally with different business to understand business needs and what research needs to be done to address current and future needs
- [Client/Supplier-side] Match research to internal/external client needs to gain stakeholder alignment on scope; offer up strategic approaches customized to business objectives
- [Supplier side] Maintain/build external client relationships by providing excellent service, deliverables that exceed expectations, engaging presentations, and on-time, within-budget results
- [Supplier side] Remain knowledgeable about clients’ business, industry, and customers; building understanding of clients’ competitive landscape and trends impacting the industry
Maintaining a consumer-centric perspective
Researchers and insights professionals, especially those on the client-side, are often tasked with making sure the consumer is at the forefront of business decisions across the organization. Some examples include:
- Drive awareness and use of consumer insights throughout the organization, fueling and supporting consumer-centric culture
- Bring endless curiosity about the consumer; help to identify unmet customer needs; translate tangible consumer insights into new business opportunities and potential white space for new business/products/brands, etc.
- Advise team and senior leaders on consumer and business tradeoffs in key decisions; bring consumer perspective into cross-functional meetings and key decisions on a daily basis
Serving as a research/insights Subject Matter Expert
Some roles have an element of leadership beyond people management and take on the responsibility of serving as an in-house expert for the practice. Some examples include:
- Keep abreast of research industry changes; learn new software, research platforms, evolving technology and tools
- Identify and vet new potential research vendor partners, aiming for enhanced capabilities or new partnership opportunities with the goal of delivering deeper insights, at reduced costs and/or quicker results
- Utilize an understanding of previously-conducted research and learnings to recognize potential knowledge gaps and leverage existing insights as possible for future business needs
[Client-side] Working cross-functionally
In-house researchers generally serve as insights experts within the organization. Whether the team runs research internally or partners with outside vendors, understanding the business needs is imperative to design appropriate approaches. Some examples include:
- Work closely with various departments (i.e. Marketing, Product teams, R&D, Brand Management, etc.) to understand knowledge gaps across the business and use insights to drive strategy
- Collaborate with internal teams to implement insights best practices; understand issues, opportunities, and strategies, and provide insights thought leadership
- Partner with the analytics or data science team to utilize additional data sources to achieve holistic understanding; help monitor the brand/category and address issues
[Supplier-side] Business or client development
Senior-level researchers on the supplier-side often have some sales or business development responsibility. Some examples include:
- Identify new business opportunities in the marketplace, and present relevant, innovative solutions to address the needs of stakeholders within both client and prospect organizations
- Maintain fantastic client relationships to encourage repeat business; listen for opportunities to expand client engagements and consistently offer up new solutions to business needs
- Respond to RFPs to provide compelling solutions for appropriate research plans, pitch new business providing support for how and why our company will be the best partner.
- Responsible for bringing in $1M annual revenue for the business [provide specific quota]
Hopefully this provides some good ideas for the types of information to include on a marketing research job description on the tasks and responsibilities portion! In our next post, we’ll be covering qualifications and skillsets such as education, previous experience, technical skills needed, and other key characteristics to focus on. Stay tuned for Part 2!
We hope this information was helpful! If you’re looking to hire marketing research or consumer insights talent, or looking for new opportunities, be sure to connect with us on LinkedIn (Karla Ahern and Kit Nordmark).