Designing Research for Actionable Results - (Archived)

Business intelligence is only valuable if the organization can put it to use in ways that will benefit performance. In fact, some companies shy away from market research because prior studies failed to deliver data that they could realistically act upon to affect improvements.

To avoid such a mishap, Market Connections advocates what is sometimes referred to as a “backwards” approach to the research design phase, wherein the research firm and client collaborate upfront to define how the research results will be used. This process requires not only defining program objectives, but drilling down further to explore data gaps that could be inhibiting sales, marketing, or operational improvements. The result is a clear understanding of the content, depth and data views that need to be delivered in the final analysis report.

From there, the research firm can determine the types of analyses required to match those needs, and then design a closely aligned survey. In fact, since it clearly discerns between “must have” and “would be nice to have” intelligence, this approach naturally helps streamline the survey instrument (which could translate into a more cost-effective research program).

For example, we recently helped one client conduct a study on buying behavior around its products. Prior to developing the survey, the client solicited internal feedback and learned that large companies tend to prefer their products more than mid-size companies. We could have simply structured the questionnaire to confirm or disprove this hypothesis. And, when the research results confirmed it, our client would have interesting, but not necessarily actionable, results.

Instead, we included additional questions on the survey that explored the perspectives of large businesses on purchase motivators and various aspects of the buying experience,?? both relative to our client and its competitors. We also sought more specific knowledge on preferred advertising and promotion techniques. The resulting report gave our client not only a deeper understanding of each segments’ product knowledge and preferences, but also insights into more effective targeting and conversion strategies.

Again, collaborate upfront with your research partner to thoroughly explore information gaps and related actionable results. And, give the researchers access to other internal stakeholders for similar discussions. Though it takes more time upfront, you’ll enjoy a much bigger return on your research investment.

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