Once market research data has been collected and evaluated, the findings must be presented to stakeholders. This may seem like a straightforward and relatively simple process, but quite surprisingly, presenting market research results is an area where many projects run off the rails. When this happens, instead of being empowered with actionable intelligence, various stakeholders are left scratching their heads which is the bad news.
The good news is that avoiding these pitfalls is a matter of tactics and strategy rather than luck or timing. To that end, here are five best practices for presenting market research results:
Clearly identify different stakeholder groups.
Just as businesses must determine their customer types (“buyer personas”), researchers must clearly identify different stakeholder groups and understand their specific information requirements.
Often, this is less a matter of including or omitting information in the presentation (and supporting documents such as reports), than it is about prioritizing information so that the most relevant and meaningful insights are delivered early and explored in more depth. For example, sales executives may be most interested in findings related to customer buying behavior, market executives may be most interested in findings related to how customers perceive and ranks brands, IT executives may be most interested in findings related to how customers engage and interact with digital properties, and so on.
Keep the jargon to a minimum.
Just like any discipline, market research has a vocabulary of familiar terms — some formal, some informal — that make communication between market research professionals simpler and faster (e.g. adaptive scripting, rank order scaling, strata, etc.). Ideally, jargon won’t make an appearance while presenting market research results. However, if this is unavoidable, then it’s important to quickly and clearly define all terms (and of course, not use more jargon to explain them!).
Use a mix of text and visuals.
It is obvious that using strong, effective and clarifying visual elements when presenting market research results through slideshows is essential. Few things are as frustrating as slideshows that are “walls of text.”
However, the same thinking should apply to report-based presentations as well. Technical information (i.e. walls of text) can be moved to appendices. Lean more towards USA Today and less towards the New York Times.
Ensure recommendations are actionable.
It’s vital for the presentation to outline stakeholder-specific recommendations that are not just rooted in the data and therefore justified and defensible, but are practical and actionable. The goal of all market research in a business context is to support faster and smarter business decision-making.
With this being said, it is fine and sometimes necessary to have different levels of recommendations, such as those that should be implemented immediately or in the near-term future, and those that may be more viable down the road.
Be prepared to capture questions and follow-up.
Stakeholders may (and often do) have questions during a presentation that either cannot be answered in real-time because the data is not immediately available, or frankly, shouldn’t be answered because while the information is relevant to the person/group making the inquiry, it is not to the other attendees.
It’s very important for those presenting market research results to have the confidence, knowledge and ability to know when it is best to answer a question, and when it is wiser to circle back with a specific stakeholder to follow-up accordingly.
At Communications For Research, we have in-depth experience delivering market research results to every stakeholder group on the business landscape. Our work reflects all of the best practices described above, because we know — just as our clients know — that market research is not an academic exercise. It must be a business investment with a clear path to ROI.
To learn more, contact us today and you’ll chat with our co-CEO Colson Steber. Whether you need market research design, research conducted or data analyzed, he will help you find the right steps to take.