So, your boss has tapped you as the company’s market research wizard, and tasked you to turn disparate raw survey data into profitable business intelligence, huh?
The good news is that regardless of whether you just joined the team or are a seasoned veteran with your own parking spot and nickname, you can grab this ball, run down the field, score a touchdown — and if you wish, do an end zone dance that goes viral on YouTube.
The bad news is that your busy boss — who has 100 things to do, and would have 200 if he or she remembered the other 100 — probably isn’t giving you a full picture of what’s expected. And so, to help you succeed (we don’t want all of your end zone choreography to be for nothing), here are 4 things about the market research projects on your agenda that your boss wants you to know:
It’s not just about the data.
Market research is not an academic exercise that may (or may not) glean interesting insights. Frankly, your boss might not care if things are interesting. What he or she wants is to translate data into recommendations, and ultimately to achieve business objectives and bottom-line ROI. Yes, it can and usually does take a while for the process to unfold — especially if the market research focuses on major initiatives like new product development. But the thing to remember at all times, is that it’s not just about the data. It’s about the results and conclusions that can be drawn from the data.
You should have a plan for recruiting respondents (and it better work).
Do you personally know all of those people who you hope will participate in your market research projects? Well, there’s a good chance that some, most or potentially even all of them will not come through. That means your sample size will be too small, your statistical confidence will be too low, and your recommendations will be speculation. So to prevent this from happening, making sure you have enough participants for your market research projects— and that they fit the right profile and are qualified — is essential for success. Then knowing how to convince them to participate is another story! Check out our blog on recruiting participants for focus groups for expert advice.
Plan your budget carefully with your boss.
This is a tough one. Most people — and this includes most bosses — tend to underestimate how much market research projects should cost, simply because they aren’t aware that it’s far more than purchasing some online tool, crafting some questions, inputting some emails, clicking “send my survey!” and waiting for the rich, reliable data to come pouring in. That’s not merely fiction — it’s fantasy.
Business-grade market research has multiple phases, and each must be managed and controlled accordingly. If you don’t make a compelling case at the outset to get the sufficient budget that you’ll need for your market research projects, the chances of getting your boss to loosen the purse strings later on are probably somewhere between slim and none.
You can get help without outsourcing everything.
If you may any of the above mistakes — even if they aren’t your fault — then it’s inevitable that when things go very badly, your boss will furrow his or her brow, and ask a very pointed question to which you will not have an adequate response: “Why didn’t you ask for help on this?”
Of course, you know that this isn’t a fair question. But you’ll be forced to accept responsibility for a problem that isn’t of your making. How can you avoid this cruel and unfair destiny? Reach out to a market agency to help you build a rock-solid case as to why it makes financial sense (which is the only kind of sense that bosses like) to continue running marketing research projects in-house, but augment that effort with outside consulting and resources like enterprise-grade market research tools and technologies.
Of course, your boss can take full credit for being wise and proactive here — and you can sleep easy at night knowing that the market research projects ahead are on-track for success. And so are you!