Maximizing the value of your research investment means walking away from the project with actionable business insights, not just pages of bar charts. A quality market research firm should provide easy-to-understand takeaways and strategies that directly address the questions and business challenges you commissioned the survey to produce.
Getting the highest ROI on your research means asking yourself if your market research drives business performance, or just produces data.
Here’s how to tell the difference.
Quality market research firms value long-term engagements. Getting to know your business on a deep level helps them understand how each survey fits into the bigger picture of your organization.
Companies that take a “one-and-done” approach to their projects end up delivering data without understanding the accompanying context. The onus is then placed on you to not only interpret the data within the context of your business but also draft and deliver that story to your stakeholders.
Seek out market research partners that show genuine interest in the rest of your organization and strive to understand how each engagement supports your overall business strategy.
The conclusions from your study must be easy to digest by all stakeholders, not just your insights department. Your data should tell a story that makes sense to your business and is easy to discuss in plain language.
For example, we worked with a CPG company to determine how coffee branding impacts the buyer decision process, and, ultimately, how purchase decisions are made. Our mobile ethnography study showed that although coffee is a ritualized process that is difficult to disrupt, there were opportunities to capitalize on the “local brand” advantage, that the client could elicit interest by introducing their coffee to consumers in social settings outside the store, and that crafting a more cohesive visual identity would attract more customers. The data provided the facts, but the true value for the organization was in the story.
If it’s not clear to you exactly what your data means for your business and how to act on it, it’s time to dig deeper.
Research yields the most useful results when thought of as an ongoing process, instead of a single data set or decision. This is another benefit of partnering with the same market research firm over the course of multiple projects. Not only will they deliver on the answer to your immediate need, but perceptive researchers will also develop studies that can add insight around other areas of your business, as well as recommend beneficial next steps or follow-up studies. This iterative process ensures that you build on your results, not generate an ongoing flow of siloed data sets.
The point of research is to put your findings into practice. If after a project concludes you find that no one looks at, refers to or discusses your findings, you have lost the value of your research investment. Lack of engagement usually indicates that people are finding the information difficult to digest or aren’t sure how to apply it. Your survey conclusions should live on their own beyond the final presentation and should directly inform future decision making in your organization.
The implications of your research should clearly demonstrate a positive return on investment. Using numbers to back up KPIs is helpful, but only to the extent that stakeholders understand what they’re looking at. Once again, it is important to translate your data into a clear and compelling story that helps decision-makers determine if they are on track or if they should change their strategy. Don’t expect data to speak for itself. Instead, connect the dots between your research and your real-world results.
Research is a crucial building block to support your business objectives, not an arbitrary exercise to show proof of due diligence. Think about your business’ current body of research. If you can’t see a clear connection to improved business performance, it’s time to rethink your approach.