01/05/2013 08:41 BST | Updated 01/07/2013 06:12 BST

Standing out From the Crowd: How to Make Yourself Heard in the Research Sector

The research sector is often seen to be dominated by a few of the biggest names, so how do smaller agencies make themselves heard under the noise from much bigger beasts?

The research sector is often seen to be dominated by a few of the biggest names, so how do smaller agencies make themselves heard under the noise from much bigger beasts?

Be Flexible

A key benefit put forward by many small research firms is their ability to be flexible and sensitive to individual client or customer needs. Flexibility comes in a small firm's ability to tailor their services to better suit their client, rather than being restricted by organisational structure or a rigid model or approach.

Much of what Northstar offers is built on the premise that we provide our clients a more personalised route to their objectives - building a bespoke framework to meet our clients' needs, and achieve the best possible outcome of results.

People First

One of the main challenges a smaller agency faces when pitching for studies is convincing the client to commit to the expertise of our people as opposed to simply relying on our brand name to do the hard work for us. As a result, building trust and a strong rapport is fundamental to our business.

At Northstar we like to put a face to the work we do. Everyone from the MD to our junior research executives are given face-time with our clients, and are involved every step of the way.

Relationships are built on clients knowing who we are as people, as much as the products that we offer as an organisation. This is much easier for us to achieve versus larger competitors, who by their nature are juggling more employees.

A Consultative Approach

People are at the heart of Northstar's business. Clients come back to work with us again and again because they know we have a dedicated team that's sensitive to their business needs. Our "people first" outlook helps to reassure them in this instance.

A project doesn't just start and stop with its inception and completion. Northstar takes a more consultative approach by immersing ourselves within our client's business environment in order to really understand the wider implications of the business problem.


For a small agency in research, being seen as creative is an important driver for success. We see creativity starting at home - building a culture of creativity within our firm provides a platform from which we can help our clients innovate within their own business.

Encouraging new thinking, and challenging existing ways of thinking, is a key part of what we give to our clients and customers.

Suggesting new methods, or different solutions to problems, helps differentiate us from some of our larger competitors who often have more traditional and rigid models.

Strategic Partnering

Flexibility comes partially in the partners and skills we're able to call upon for any given project. Rather than having the restriction of internal departments dedicated to certain types or stages of work, as a small agency we instead choose to outsource and partner with specialised agencies suited to the project at hand.

Our "best of breed" approach means we are able to tap into the best skillsets using our close network of partners and suppliers - instead being restricted only to in-house departments or skillsets.

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