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9 tips for commissioning valuable market research

Market research and insight can play a vital role in the success of any business. A well-designed research project will generate useful evidence that enables businesses to make confident, fact-based decisions on a wide range of issues, for example:

  • Planning or testing out potential strategies and new products or services;
  • Evaluating the impact of existing strategies, products or services;
  • Finding out what customers, installers, suppliers, distributors or staff members think;
  • Testing or developing marketing and communications;
  • Providing an answer to any other questions about the business or its market.

So, once you’ve decided to commission some market research, where do you start? Here are nine top tips to maximise the impact and usefulness of a research project…

1) Set clear objectives

Before finding and briefing an agency, it’s worth taking the time to really consider what you want out of the research. Don’t rush into it! A good market research agency will advise on the best methods and techniques to achieve your aims, but first they need to understand your reasoning. It’s essential to be able to articulate what you want to ultimately achieve with the project.

2) Plan and prepare

It can be useful to do some planning and preparation before speaking to an agency. For example, it can be helpful to have an idea of timing. What time of year do you want to undertake the research? How long should the project take? When do you need the results? It’s also worth considering what you already know. Most companies have considerable information in-house, so think about what data could help form the questions or answer your research aims. Read more..

3) Define the scope and limitations

When specifying a research project, it is best to keep things as simple as possible and to try not to cover too wide a scope in the brief. In essence, you need to differentiate ‘need to know’ from ‘nice to know’ information and not be tempted to look for data that is not part of your research objectives. Who is the research for? What is it that you need to know to achieve your aims?

4) Consider the research methodology

Any experienced agency should be able to provide guidance on the most appropriate methodology for the project. However, it’s worth familiarising yourself with the basics of quantitative and qualitative research. You need to know which one you’re after, because the cost of a project is often directly related to the number or types of interviews required.

5) Decide on the deliverables

The output from a research project can come in many forms, so you’ll need to think about the level of information you want back. Do you want data only, or full-scale analysis, or recommendations and insight? What you want to receive will influence the cost of the research and how the project is designed – and changing your mind in the middle of a project could inflate costs and cause delays.

6) Write a research brief

To communicate the research aims and any relevant background information that might be needed to quote for your project, it’s best to prepare a research brief. Important points to include are: context and background; main objectives; desired output; timescale and key dates; and an idea of the budget. The market research agency will then be able outline how they would undertake the project.

7) Have realistic expectations

Often clients will want the project done as cheaply and as quickly as possible, but you have to bear in mind that you get what you pay for with research. When trying to keep costs down, briefs often ask for “just an overview” or “top line figures only”. But remember that something so general is unlikely to provide true insight.

8) Select an experienced agency

Any agency can put together a questionnaire or online survey, or rank your competitors using business information databases. But if you want real insight, you need an agency with experience in your particular sector and the knowledge to interpret the results into recommendations that will work for you.

9) Be open minded – embrace the results

Finally, it’s important to be open-minded about the results. What’s exciting about research is that you never know what a survey may reveal – good or bad. A good research agency won’t just tell you want you want to hear, but will communicate the positive and the negative. Even if the results are not what you were expecting, highlighting issues that need to be dealt with can only be a good thing in the long run.

If you want to know what you don’t know – and what to do about it – get in touch with MRA Research now on 01453 521621.

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