The best of both worlds: Possibilities for hybrid DIY market research

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Posted Aug 24, 2022
Stephanie Vance

In a market research landscape packed with full-service suppliers and agile research platforms, full-service and DIY research are often made to seem like two distinct options, with no middle ground. At aytm, we don’t believe in this false dichotomy. 

Most of our DIY-oriented clients benefit—at least occasionally—from tapping into our managed services. Conversely, our more full-service clients are routinely empowered to take things into their own hands if a task can be done easily and effectively without our involvement. We think of this as a “hybrid DIY model.” 

If a hybrid model is new to your company, the key to doing it successfully is having a partner who provides sophisticated, easy-to-use tools with a team that can effectively guide you into DIY and full-service engagements—all depending on your needs. In this article, we’ll go into depth on the hybrid DIY model and show how we’ve built-out our platform and service model at aytm.

Full-service research

In a full-service engagement, the supplier takes on the engagement from top to bottom. They consult with you to determine the best methodology to address your business questions, develop a research plan, design the study, and—in the case of quantitative online research—program and field the survey to a sample of individuals that represent your target market. From there, the supplier analyzes the data and builds a report that describes the survey results, translating them into actionable insights that address the original business question.

Benefits of a taking a full-service approach to insights

Experience and expertise 

With the right supplier, you are tapping into a team with deep experience in research planning and execution. Your supplier should work as a partner to you, investing time to understand the business context deeply so that they can recommend an approach that will best fit your needs. Based on the diversity of their experience working with multiple clients, good suppliers will think of things that you haven’t and will serve as trusted consultants as you collectively engage in the work of translating results into business-relevant insights. 

QA/QC

Your supplier’s executional experience should mean that you won’t need to worry about mistakes or errors in your data—full-service research suppliers typically have quality control and assurance processes that can be difficult to replicate for DIYers, who typically  don’t have a full team behind their efforts. 

Access to sophisticated tools and/or analyses

Often, full-service suppliers have invested in sophisticated platforms, tools, and associated advanced analytics that may not be available to a client side researcher. From a time and cost perspective, these investments make sense for a supplier who works with many clients, but won’t necessarily make sense for one client side researcher who plans to use a specific methodology or analysis infrequently. 

Scalability

Finally, a key benefit of working in a managed research model is the ability to scale your research efforts up and down with little impact to your own team and workload. Although many companies engage in research that runs on a regular cadence, things can shift rapidly in the business world. Strategy may change, timelines may collide,  and new business questions will arise. In those moments, having a supplier who can flex in resources and absorb this additional work can be a huge value-add—instilling confidence and helping maintain momentum. 

DIY research

Although the benefits of full service research are many, it can be expensive and often takes longer than is desirable to companies and their leadership teams. These drawbacks, along with the development of powerful technology and automation, have transformed the market research industry, allowing agile research platforms and a DIY model of research execution to become an integral part of the landscape. 

In a DIY model, client-side insights professionals (and marketers, strategists, PLMs, and product managers) are empowered to plan and execute research independently, significantly cutting costs and, often, yielding insights in a much shorter time frame. Although the primary benefits of DIY research are cost- and time-savings, there are many other benefits.

Benefits of a taking a DIY approach to insights

Control and visibility

In a DIY model, there is no supplier to be managed, which means that there is no room for mistranslation of your ideas, strategy, or business context into a supplier’s execution of your vision. The “black box” is removed, and you can typically see your data in real time, which also allows you to start answering business questions before your study completes fielding.

Internal collaboration

When companies take a DIY approach to research, they often find that internal collaboration across teams is easier. As the “lead researcher” you are free to bring others into the process—as a sounding board, as a survey reviewer, and even to preview insights. Bringing internal stakeholders into the research process increases the impact of your research and, ultimately, your insights. 

Fully contextualized insights

Related to the above, one of the top benefits of a DIY approach is that you know your company—your customer, your product, your value proposition—better than anyone. Having that context as you design a study and interpret the data can be invaluable. 

Promoted value and ROI of insights teams

Finally, DIY research can be key to building and promoting the value of your role, as you build a reputation for answering critical business questions quickly, effectively, and within budget. 

Hybrid: Bringing the best of both worlds

At aytm, we see firsthand, every day, the value of DIY research. But as the lead for aytm’s Research Services team, I also see how valuable full-service support can be for clients. This is why aytm has long-championed a flexible-service model. 

Our goal with all clients and across all engagements is to enable you to generate the insights you need in order to move your business forward. And we typically find that regardless of where a client starts with us (as a DIYer or a full-service client), almost all clients optimize to a hybrid model that combines elements of DIY with elements of a managed service model. 

3 common hybrid DIY models we offer to our clients

1. Build it once with managed service, repeat it as DIY

For programmatic research such as concept testing, claims testing, package testing or even a brand health tracker, clients often tap into our Research Services team for the first engagement. As part of that engagement, we design and program a custom questionnaire and reporting format that you can use as a template going forward. Our platform makes it easy to “clone and update” such studies, and our results page makes it easy to quickly pull results into the format of your choice. 

2. Upfront consulting, DIY execution

In a DIY model, we often find that what clients miss most is the innovative thinking/exchange of ideas that happens with partner-led engagements. We believe all clients should be able to depend on us as a thought partner, even if they are a DIYer. You are always welcome to book a consulting hour with our team, during which you and an aytm researcher can sit together and talk through various  approaches and analyses. Our goal is for you to leave that engagement with a research roadmap—an approach that you can execute confidently and effectively on our platform. 

3. Your design, our execution

Finally, sometimes clients know exactly what they want to do but they simply don’t have the bandwidth to do it. When these moments arise, we’re here to lend support with minimal back and forth. All you need to do is share a questionnaire and an old report with us and we will update and replicate it, often finding opportunities to increase impact with a new analysis. We understand the value of tried and true approaches, and know that sometimes executional support is the need of the hour.