Trade associations are essential to the marketing research industry. They provide us with an opportunity to learn about best practices, new forms of record and industry trends. They provide us with an opportunity to network. One of the most overlooked roles of industry associations is their ability to be our voice in the government. Their lobbying and advocacy efforts are vital to the future strengthening of the marketing research industry.
Over the years Marketing Systems Group has embraced this and encouraged us to take an active role in these associations. Over the last 10 years I have been very active in the Marketing Research Association, both at the chapter level as well as the national level, culminating this past year as the president of the Greater New York Chapter.
I found it to be an incredible opportunity to put my fingerprints on the direction and message of the largest chapter in the association. What I didn’t realize is how much goes into the chapter running at the high level that everyone has come to expect. You don’t realize how much work is involved to get one event planned, let alone 5 events. Of course, I was not alone. I was surrounded by nine of the most dedicated and hard working board members that I could ask for. Their hard work made my job so much easier and I am forever grateful for everything that they did.
By far my favorite event was the Price is Right event which was a twist on the old game show by guessing on costs for industry related expenditures. It was a fun and interactive way for attendees to volunteer and learn about parts of the research industry that they are not involved in day to day.
I have often been asked why I am always trying stay involved with the MRA. The answer is simple – you can only get out of an association what you put into it. My suggestion to anyone would be to get involved. That can mean so many different things. Start by attending events. Maybe you learn something new. Maybe you meet someone who will become a client, a vendor or a friend. Once you are comfortable, volunteer. Our industry associations LOVE volunteers and my years of volunteering have helped me in so many professional and personal ways. I have developed client relationships and secured new vendors. I have learned so much about the research industry outside of the world of sampling that I may have never been exposed to and this has only helped me understand my client needs better. I have met many people who I now count among some of my closest friends. I am very appreciative and thankful to those that encouraged me to get involved all of those years ago as well as everyone that I have met and worked with over those ten years. And, of course, I am grateful to work for a company that understands the importance of our associations as well as our involvement in them. I truly think that we are a better company for it.