Research is essential for creating any strategy, or planning any campaign. Research can take a number of forms, ranging from researching competitor activity to researching potential customers or markets.
Most qualitative desk research can be done online, and even increasingly, so can quantitative research.
The challenge most businesses face with getting research done is that it's a 'do it once at the start' type of task. Unless a business is in a constant state of change, with huge budgets, it is unlikely to need a full-time researcher.
Freelance researchers and planners
The on-demand freelance model is perfect for getting research done. Create a brief to produce a specific piece of research and just pay for what you've asked for.