According to a classic textbook authored by Keller and Kotler: “Management is faced with many choices involving possible marketing actions. The goal of marketing research is to provide management with actionable information that will allow managers to make better decisions and ultimately reduce risk.”
Obviously, this is true, but more practically there is quite a gap between “providing management with actionable information” and “allowing managers to make better decisions and ultimately reduce risk.” In fact, this gap can be so large and deep, that many viable and profitable ideas have fallen in, never to be seen again. It’s the marketing research world’s version of the Bermuda Triangle.
In light of this, marketing agencies and consultants must constantly remember that supplying their clients with valuable research is just part of the picture. They must also ensure that their clients take intelligent action so that ideas turn into results. As noted by McKinsey&Company: “Data is meaningless unless it helps make decisions that have measurable impact.”
To that end, here are three practical strategies for turning marketing research into action – and ultimately, putting your marketing agency or consulting firm on track to succeed, right along with your satisfied and impressed clients:
Start with the RIGHT research question
Many marketing research efforts are doomed to fail before they even start because of the wrong research question. That is, the insights may be valuable (and usually are), but they do not align directly to what the client needs to know.
Sometimes, this fundamental error is not triggered by marketing agencies or consultants, but by clients themselves who think they need an answer to Problem A, when in truth they need an answer to problem B (or perhaps they need to discover B before they can intelligently deal with A). Working with a market research firm to steer clients in the right direction before the project begins can, and often does, make all the difference.
Gather QUALITY data
The right research question will be rendered useless – or worse, misleading – if the data behind it is inaccurate, incomplete, or just plain bad. Unfortunately, this happens far more often than most people realize, and it is a major reason for business failure.
The basic reason for this ongoing, major problem is that some qualitative data gathering methods over-promise and under-deliver. For example, DIY online survey tools like SurveyMonkey were never designed for capturing legitimate business-grade marketing research, and using them to glean actionable marketing research is, frankly, misusing them. It is like taking a bumper car from a carnival on the Autobahn.
The same caution holds true for other methods, such as using social media or bulletin board focus groups. While these can indeed be part of the overall marketing research mix, it is vital to get the balance right (usually be adding other methods, including offline approaches). Each method has advantages and drawbacks. Knowing how to augment the former and mitigate the latter is key to presenting clients with actionable marketing research that is not just stimulating or interesting, but drives bottom-line business results.
Keep Recommendations SIMPLE
The concept of “simple marketing research” is a moving target, because various clients have different mindsets. What’s more, different people on the same client team can have diverse needs.
For example, a client team may be comprised of a VP of Engineering and a Sales Executive. The former may find that a 20-page recommendation report is superficial and about 30 pages shy of being relevant. The latter may stare in horror at a 20-page recommendation report, and say “get back to me when you drill this down into a one-page summary.”
Once again, partnering with an experienced market research firm makes all of the difference here. Marketing agencies and consultants can leverage their partner’s experience to know how to keep recommendations simple for different and diverse audiences. Otherwise, regardless of how valuable the marketing research is, it will not lead to action and results.
At Communications For Research, provide marketing agencies and consultants with quality, efficient and streamlined marketing research solutions -- so they can achieve their client's’ goals effectively and impressively. To learn more, contact us today. We are happy to provide accurate, concise, and complimentary feedback on your existing research plans or discuss new research ideas that will bring value to your business.