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December 12, 2008

Mark Bagnall:Independent meetings and events evaluation shouldn’t be about them and us

The managing director of Phoenix Research says research agencies need to change the impression that they are a breed apart, working in a parallel world where data is captured, churned through a super-computer, and spat out in the form of a heavily laden report that makes sense only to them. They need to prove that they can play a key part in verifying the effectiveness of meetings and events to the benefit of both corporates and agencies.

Close your eyes and imagine looking in on a market research company. What you might see in your mind’s eye is a deathly quiet office, regimented rows of desks inhabited by men and women in suits, head down and picking over a mountain of statistical data tabulations.

In reality, this is far from the truth, but it’s not a pretty sight, and not one that engenders market research to the headier world of agency life.

I’m constantly amazed by the surprise we’ve encountered when meeting marketing agencies, which were expecting bespectacled gentlemen of a certain age, wearing tweed suits with matching elbow patches.

Image isn’t everything, of course, and breaking down these barriers is relatively easy – all you have to do is actually meet.

On a more serious and pertinent point, what we who hail from the market research world need must do is earn the trust and respect of the meetings and events industry. We need to show that we work just like agencies and corporate planners; long hours, thinking creatively, to short deadlines, with a real belief in what we do. We need to show that we can add value to meetings and events by proving their effectiveness through independent evaluation based on respected market research principles.

And when it comes to telling you what we’ve find out, we need to be able to get all the key points across succinctly and in a language you understand.

If marketing research agencies are going to earn respect and trust within the meetings and events world, they need to work, look, and feel like the experiential agencies, drive the belief that they are not there to ‘police’ campaigns, and can deliver information that is pertinent, concise and well worth the money they have been paid.

Mark Bagnall is managing director at market research agency Phoenix Research.

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