Marketing Research and Insight Excellence Awards finalist Amanda Heer, senior director of research services and advanced analytics, The DRG

Editor's note: Amanda Heer is a finalists of the 2022 Researcher of the Year (Supplier) Award which is a category in the Marketing Research and Insight Excellence Awards. To find out more about the awards click here.

What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out in MR?  

The first thing that comes to mind is communication – with internal teams and our clients. So much of our job is communicating with others, and most of us will need to invest time and attention to become effective communicators. My advice is to read, learn and observe to build these skills. It’s imperative to always know your audience and put yourself in their shoes. Tell them what they need to know in a way that will resonate.   

Being a good communicator isn’t just about words. Data distillation and visualization are increasingly important tools for us. Pay attention to trends you’re seeing on these fronts in your daily life and in your professional reading to help find new and better ways to tell your data story.    

Be sure to stay curious. Get exposure to as many different types of research projects and clients as possible. Even if you end up doing most of your work in a particular set of industries, there is a lot to be learned from adjacent and non-related fields.  

If you’re able to, I highly recommend working with a mentor. The learning and feedback opportunities you’ll receive from a great mentor are invaluable. I’ve been extremely fortunate to have some fantastic mentors over the years and likely wouldn’t be the researcher I am today without these experiences. 

Finally, embrace flexibility. Sometimes projects aren’t going to go the way you hope. That’s OK. Look for solutions and use the experience as a growth opportunity.  

How do you see the marketing research industry changing in the next five years?  

Many of the changes that are on my mind are exacerbations of things we have already been experiencing with clients and respondents – and can be boiled down to heightened concerns over relevancy.  

Data relevancy. The amount of data available to organizations continues to grow – many of our clients have access to customer database information, syndicated research, primary research, unstructured data streams, etc. Market research suppliers can add value by understanding our clients’ business needs and being able to sift through and extract information that is relevant and noteworthy.  

Results sharing relevancy. Once you have the relevant information, then what? Inboxes and calendars are full and attention is short. Marketing research professionals will need to continue to evolve the ways we socialize information and will need to get even better at tailoring the story, keeping it simple and making it compelling.     

Survey relevancy. Respondents are also swimming in a sea of information and competition for their attention. As market researchers, we will need to prioritize our learning goals for projects and get better at designing surveys that ask questions relevant to consumers.  

What has been your favorite part of being a researcher?  

I like a good challenge, so hearing about a client’s business needs and the questions they are asking gets my mind going. The researcher in me immediately begins to form hypotheses and ideas about how we can help. I also really like the analysis and storytelling part of the job; distilling information, connecting the dots and landing at the right mix of words and visuals to succinctly explain what we learned and what to do about it. It’s rewarding and a big responsibility to know that my work can help a client confidently make decisions that will impact their customers and their business. 

As I previously mentioned, I’ve been lucky enough to have several great mentors over the years and know how important it is for employees to have this type of relationship. I’m passionate about giving back in this way.