Thinking About Magazines

Michael Bird
  Thomson Information Services Ltd.

TOOLS OF THE TRADE: RESEARCH AND PROMOTION

Research: Machiavelli was right

It is a cliche of the market research business that research is only as good as the original interview, but having worked at both ends of the supplier/customer relationship I have always maintained that research is only as good as the client. This observation, which I first made 10 years ago in a ESOMAR paper, turns out not to be original: apparently, Machiavelli wrote 'only a wise ruler can take good advice.' You cannot do good research for a client whose attitude (and it is a matter of attitude rather than intellect) is fundamentally flawed – the one who naively believe all research, or the one who cynically disbelieves all research; the one who uses it to prove to himself what he knows already to be true, or the one who uses it to prove to others what he himself knows is untrue. Even the best researchers in the country can only do bad work for such people. Whether they labour in the client company or at a research agency, they find themselves being turned into politicians.

Continuity of research