Last week, my colleague and self-proclaimed CatMan, John Grafton blogged in this space about cats and the qualities that they share with good marketing researchers. For me, cats are OK. I've even had a couple as pets, but I would not define myself as a "cat person'. No, I am much more of a dog lover, so I was intrigued by John's assertion that his dogs were not demonstrating an aptitude for marketing research.
Curious (cat-like?) and like the good researcher I am, I started observing the two canines who share our home: Molly, a geriatic cocker spaniel, and Ike, a Springer-Dalmation mix who, at 13, should be slowing down but still believes he's a puppy. Aside from the obvious (no thumbs), do these two exhibit any characteristics in common with marketing researchers?
First, dogs love everyone. As marketing researchers, we cannot love everyone - we have to be willing to discriminate, whether based on profitability, intent to purchase, satisfaction or loyalty, we are always looking to identify the more preferred segments of the market for our client.
Next, Dogs are eager to please. As marketing researchers, we can't be so eager to please that we can't occassionally deliver the cold hard truth to our clients. Yes, they won't enjoy it and yes, they might not call us back. But it is the right thing to do. And no matter how much you wag your tail, it doesn't change the fact that bad news is difficult to deliver and difficult to receive.
Dogs (at least when they are younger) will retrieve a ball or a frisbee as many times as you are willing to throw it. While love to have repeat clients, marketing researchers also have a responsibility at times to advise client to not do marketing research (or, in this analogy to not throw the ball). Again, as much as we would like to do the research and as much as we profit from doing the research, sometimes the correct path is to advise the client against research.
Dogs follow you around. Now, we suspect that our dogs follow us around because they are just always on the look out for food that might be available where we are. But good marketing researchers don't follow. We are objective and independent, and get our clients to follow us, at least to where the data takes us.
On the other hand, dogs are loyal, dedicated and fun-loving, and I have known many marketing researcher who could be descibed with those terms. While it must be said that marketing researchers do occasionally run around in circles chasing their tails, I have concluded that John is - for the most part - correct: cats make better marketing researchers than do dogs.
Dog People! How are your dogs like marketing researcher? Or not like marketing researchers? Share your thoughts.