When it comes to making strategic business decisions, you’ve got the experience, skill, intuition and common sense. What’s missing? The evidence to back it up.
Commissioning market research is an investment that should be made when you need actionable data analysis to support more rigorous decision making. Your market research is specifically designed to find the answers to your current question. It’s not a wasteful, generalized collection of the maximum amount of information. Particularly in the B2B context, it’s about asking your niche audience the right questions in the right way to elicit actionable insights that answer your business dilemmas.
Before you commission market research, you need to prepare your side of the partnership. In the same way as you wouldn’t visit the dentist without brushing your teeth, you shouldn’t commission market research without putting yourself in the right position.
But what does ‘getting ready to commission market research’ actually mean?
You can explain what you want to know and why you want to know it, within the framework of your related business objectives. This becomes your specific scope of ‘we need to know this’ with concrete deliverables.
You need to know what you already know by collecting and collating your existing in-house information. Your market research partner will build on this. There’s no point commissioning market research into data that’s already in your organization. Make sure that all departments share their specific data insights at regular intervals to avoid blind spots.
You need to be able to share your budget availability and required timeframe at the start of your relationship with your market research partner.
You need to involve all the departments of your organization that the research will impact. from the outset. Everyone’s ideas and feelings are heard at the start, which motivates open-mindedness to whatever results your market research produces. You can set a tone of positivity that defines all results as an opportunity for growth. Even data insights that suggest a negative about the company, or are genuinely unexpected, are pathways to improvement.
In order to make the best of your partnership with market research professionals, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the basic research methodologies. Just knowing the difference between quantitative and qualitative research methods helps create a shared language and speeds up how quickly you can make best use of the outcomes of your research.
Summarize the details of your thinking in a research brief that’s ready to share with your research partner.
As with any project of any kind, changing your mind part way through only ever costs more money and time. The same is true for market research.
Getting everything together from the start keeps objectives clear, expectations realistic, and everyone aiming at the same target. It also means that you’re prepared to take action based on results. Because your aims are specific enough to allow for different possible outcomes, you’ll already be planning your different options.
You can use market research to find answers to all kinds of questions. When you carry it out depends on its purpose:
The timing of your market research can miss the mark. Sometimes companies are in so much of a rush to make a decision that they leave it too late to maximize its true value.
As Santiago Sanchez, DoorDash, General Manager realized: “…I wanted to bring more rigor and method to our decision making process. Because when we go too fast – we miss things if we don’t dig into research and surface new insights. I need to say with a reasonable degree of confidence when I present to leadership, “here’s our recommendation, and here’s why we should do it.”
He saw that basing strategy on research gives the company, “A much tighter focus to our strategy conversation, which ultimately gives us greater advantage.” By timing this market research properly it helps “…uncover new growth ops and minimize the risk by providing the ‘right’ certainty in our decisions.”
Your market research partner chooses the best combination of research methodologies to deliver actionable answers to your specific questions. Commissioning marketing research gives you insights that help you across your business.
There’s no eliminating risk altogether, but decision quality data will minimize that risk in a variety of business decisions. For example, you can find out if the new market you’re considering is receptive to your product or service before you commit investment.
Market research insights inform where to invest your resources and where to pull back. For example, ensuring that your messaging speaks directly to your target market before campaign launch. Find out which new product features are most important to your clients before they go into development. And check that they think the price mark-up is worth it.
Market research insights often uncover new revenue streams for our clients – new product features, new platforms, new markets. The unexpected isn’t always a dreadful shock. Market research insights are sometimes a delightful surprise that you can take advantage of before the competition.
One way to cement your position as an industry leader is to create thought leadership reports and articles based on the market research findings you commissioned.
Investing in your relationship with your market research partner over time allows an exciting upward spiral of thinking to develop in your organization. As your stakeholders begin to trust the data and see how its insights benefit the company, they’re inspired by its potential to formulate their opportunities for research.
“Good data helps our stakeholders internalize the research. We try to educate our stakeholders with ideas developed by my manager. For example, taking our research and sharing it with our folks in quick bites so they can understand the methodologies and ask questions. And then that leads into, “Hey, I’ve got some ideas for research, Jason – how can we partner up?” —Jason Talwar, Former Salesforce & Microsoft Insights Executive