I have recruited for the market research industry since 2001 and since then have seen a great deal of change. My 2001 self would not recognise the industry I now recruit in – we have all had to evolve. B2B Research has always been something I have been involved in, from my industry days (financial services) until now. I have also been involved with The Business Intelligence Group since I moved into recruitment and a committee member for fifteen years.
One thing I am always asked by people I meet in the industry is ‘what is the health of the market research sector?’. I always answer from an overall standing and right now it is busy – moving, changing, and growing.
But where is B2B research in all this?
As someone who recruits on both B2C and B2B roles the differences between the two disciplines are decreasing and certainly the candidate spec is becoming blurred I believe. Candidates and clients would argue differently I’m sure and it is no surprise to me that, when presented with a brief where B2B is the dominant factor, candidates often turn their nose up. Why? Is unearthing the next colour of toothpaste really that interesting?
B2B research has always been about ‘answering the business question’ and to do that research skills need to be more holistic, have both primary and secondary research ability, and be able to employ all methodologies in the research toolkit. So why is it not seen as the ‘go to’ for candidates and new graduates alike? Is it packaged wrongly, do potential employees see/hear the words ‘industrial’, ‘manufacturing’, or ‘financial’ and get turned off? Why does it seem to have a less sexy image than its B2C cousin?
Though there are fewer and fewer, specialist B2B agencies, many agencies will have some exposure to it and work on B2B projects. To my mind, if you get the chance to do so, you should work on a B2B project. You will really get under the skin of an organisation, work closely with them to answer questions that are very likely to shape the next part of the companies’ journey and strategy. You will talk to leading experts in the field and approach projects as a true partner – you are being asked so much more than just being commissioned to do a piece of research.
B2B needs to wake up a bit and not be afraid to use new methodologies whilst still exalting those traditional methods that have always served B2B so well – desk research for one. Sure, not all new methods may work as effectively in the B2B space, but with some sensible crafting and positioning there is so much more that is and could be achieved with B2B audiences – be proud of what is being done and make some noise about it.
So before turning down an opportunity to work in B2B research– you might find it more interesting than you think.