As you enter the market research field, or even if you are a grizzled veteran, you may have asked yourself this question – Which would be better?  Working for a smaller market research firm or a larger one? With the vast number of market research firms around, you certainly have your choice based on your own preference. It really depends on your style and needs from a career because big and small cater to different styles.  Both offer separate advantages and, in an ideal world, it would be nice to experience a good blend of benefits offered by smaller and larger market research firms.  If your company is good at what it does, and you are good at what you do, you might just be able to experience both over the course of your career, all at the same place.  Here are five benefits offered by smaller-scale market research firms:

1. We provide you with a more well-rounded skill set.

Oftentimes, larger market research firms will have designated departments or dedicated personnel that handle specific job duties.  You could have separate staff to program surveys, populate data into PowerPoint, and analyze the findings. As is the case with many smaller to mid-size firms, you’ll see more “all-in-one” roles.  So, if you are interested in exploring all phases of the market research process, start with smaller firms. The great thing about this  is you can find which part of the process you like best and map your career plans from it (whether it be programmer, graphic design, sales, etc.).  Having multiple responsibilities also helps you better understand all of the ins and outs of a specific project from start to finish.  Smaller market research firms provide you with a more well-rounded skill set.

2. We give you empowerment.

Usually, the more people there are in a market research firm, the more steps and teams you’ll have to go through to have something approved.  That’s not to say that having more people involved won’t add value to the process but it usually hinders progress and improvement.  Sometimes the higher-ups in organizations tend to protect workload rather than delegate it. To use a Bunker phrase, “if it’s everyone’s responsibility, it’s no one’s responsibility. – VM” With smaller firms, they have no choice but to empower staff with responsibility and action.  You can take a project (whether it be in-house or for a client) and run with it without having to worry about “Big Brother.”

3. We offer you more quality control.

I can see this as a benefit for both smaller or larger market research firms.  One could argue larger firms can employ more staff, which in turn can employ more staff to watch over fieldwork, edit documents, etc.  However, tying into my last point of empowerment, you’ll have a greater sense of quality control with your own work.  Due to the smaller nature of studies, you’ll be closer to the client and closer to the data collection process.  As is the case with Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) – a market research firm in Syracuse NY, we do everything in-house.  When clients come to Syracuse to do focus groups, they’ve quickly found out we can do a lot more than just be a focus group facility host.  We can design their recruitment screener and recruit participants, we can design the moderator’s guide, we can moderate the groups, we can write the report, and we can develop action items based on the research.  So by having engagement in all steps of the market research process, our team can closely monitor quality because everything is done right here in this building.

4. We give you ownership.

This ownership comes in two forms.  The first is with clients.  In most cases for a smaller market research firm, you’ll be a key point of contact with the client, similar to what ad firms would call an Account Manager.  You work directly with clients on a day-to-day basis figuring out their problems and pain points, design a project to find solutions for them, and feel that sense of reward when you deliver.  As is the case with point 2 (empowerment), in larger market firms you may write the report and customize recommendations, but you don’t get to truly see how the results pan out.  Smaller market research firms offer that, we are our clients’ prototypical “back-office market research firm.”  The second piece of ownership comes from within your market research firm, as you’ll get to see how your efforts impact and improve the firm.  If you’re lucky enough, you’ll be able to see that growth from year to year and you can start telling your “remember when” stories to the newbies.

5. We have a great work-life culture.

Smaller market research firms have a “can-do” type atmosphere.  If something needs to be done, you can just do it*.  It’s not always a necessity to hold meetings with more than a few people and as a result, more work gets done.  We eliminate (or at least recognize) Fake Work (great book, by the way).  In this book, the author stated that when you hold meetings, you are pulling away valuable resources from real work.  An hour-long meeting with 10 people is not 1 hour of lost production, but rather 10 hours of lost production for your firm.  Also, as basic as it sounds, you get to know your other colleagues on a more personal level and learn to understand what communication styles work and don’t work with them.  Sometimes larger firms lose sight of that because their big picture thinking is too big – and communication problems are inherent.

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Those are five advantages to working for a smaller to mid-size market research firm like RMS in Syracuse, NY.  On the flip side, larger market research firms have larger budgets, which usually mean more perks, more travel (due to larger clientele), and more national or even global implications from your market research (in addition to other advantages).  There are definitely benefits to each and ultimately it will be up to you to decide which is better for you.  As is the case with our growing market research firm over the past 10 years, we certainly strive for continued development here at RMS, but we never lose sight of our roots.  One thing we can all agree on is market research is an engaging and enjoyable career choice, so dive in.

*Do not take this too subjectively. The Bunker will not be held responsible for legal implications.