Getting the Most from Your Market Research Project

In a society where companies are accelerating the release of new products and services, there is more pressure than ever for market research teams to deliver meaningful data quickly and on a tighter budget, in every phase of the research process.

Long gone are the days when studies took months and a substantial lump sum of money to complete. While market research has progressed to an era where data can be collected and analyzed in a matter of weeks at a significantly less cost, the pursuit for speed can lead to issues that contribute to missed deadlines and compromised data quality. To avoid such issues, it is beneficial to understand how you can get the greatest value from your research project and potential partners.


Build Your Foundation

Partial or vague project specifications are among the leading concerns that can occur during a market research study. Even the basic conditions such as sample size, targeting criteria, or length of an interview are not finalized must be discussed during the project kick off. It should be considered crucial to resolving any assumptions around these elements.

These basic components are so important to a study because sample size, the feasibility of your target market, and questionnaire length or complexity drive study cost and timing. When it is time to evaluate bids from various suppliers, you want to make sure the proposals and timing are based on the same study specifications.

It would also be helpful to consider additional questionnaire requirements like open-ended questions or distinctive question types that may require custom coding. The more your research supplier knows upfront, the better suited they become to plan and allocate the proper resources to ensure the project completes on time and remains on budget.  


Seek Advice

Veteran market research suppliers have an abundance of information based on previous studies they’ve conducted. While it is vital to articulate project specifications, it is equally as important to ask for input and suggestions from a trusted research partner to confirm you are on the appropriate path in terms of objectives and sampling.

Despite quantitative data collection methods dominating the market research industry, some studies or target samples may not be suited for such a technique. Rely on your research partners skill and experience to improve your own knowledge to field a more fruitful study.

The same concept applies to studies that demand a quick turnaround. There will always be a case in which a supplier over-promises with the hope that everything on the project goes perfectly, but this “no margin for error” approach can lead to issues down the line. It is best to consider your research partners suggestions and allow them to guide you and apply realistic applications early in the process than fail to deliver later on.


Establish Expectations

Sharing your specific needs with regard to timing, deliverables, and communication preferences is an essential part of any up-front discussions that occur with your research supplier. This is especially true with quick turnaround projects! It is important to be specific with your timing needs, down to the time of day you require specific deliverables. It is advisable to avoid ambiguous phrases like “late next week” as this can be open to interpretation. A good research partner will repeat timelines back and confirm these needs.

Keep this idea in mind when discussing deliverables as well. The term “Topline” can include a range of different deliverables, from simple cross-tab tables to graphs with short written summaries. It is key to be as specific as possible with what you need from your data output.

Though it might not seem as critical of an area when it comes to a research study, communication preferences should be determined up-front as well. Set clear expectations on how and when you want to be informed of the study progress.

For instance, some folks might prefer daily updates, while others prefer to only know when key milestones are completed. It is equally as important to decide on the manner in which you communicate with your research team. Email has become the most common method of communication, but be sure to let your research partner know if you desire a phone call when the circumstances dictate.


The Takeaways

The items discussed will contribute to the success of a market research study, but what this article boils down to is; be explicitly clear with your project objectives, even down to the smallest detail. When clear and precise specifications around sample size, targeting criteria, questionnaire length, timing, and deliverable requirements are established it is more likely that you will be satisfied with the results of your research project. Plan for the unexpected and don’t be shy about communicating your expectations, nothing beats an experienced and informed team to help a study go smoothly!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ariel Hagaman, VP of Operations
I was born and raised in New Jersey, and currently work for AYTM as Director of Client Services. I am a graduate of the University of Phoenix, and have always found that I am at my best when working with people. My favorite past-times are reading, skiing, and yoga!