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What Marketing Consultants Need to Know About Market Research

If you are a marketing consultant it is a good bet that you have encountered client problems that need market research to solve. Whether you decide to do the research yourself or outsource to a market research company, it is essential that you provide these services with a focus on accuracy and expedience.  Your customers depend on you to help them understand what their potential customers are looking for, and how best to reach them.  Without you, your customers cannot reach the level of success they hope to reach.

Marketing Consultants Talking with Market ResearchersThe Benefits of Market Research

When it is done well, market research produces usable insights that your customers can apply in their businesses.  These insights can make the difference between success and failure.  Unfortunately, the mechanics of research can be messy.  Knowing what information you are looking for may be the easy part, actually getting this information from real people is a challenge.  How will you recruit and screen participants?  How many people should you call or e-mail with your survey questions?  Where will you get the contact information for these people?  The time and energy you will spend completing this primary research may cut into your profit margins.

There is a solution however; you can contract with a research firm to assist you in the labor intensive work of project management, data collection and tabulating data.  These businesses specialize in conducting research, meaning they can complete certain phases of the project more efficiently than you can.  When you hire a research firm to conduct primary research, be certain that you are on the same page regarding these four critical issues:

1. The Right Sources

Who is the target of your research?  This depends on what you hope to learn.  For primary research, your sources must be immediately concerned with the subject of your research.  If you are researching purchasing habits, your primary sources are the potential consumers of a product.  If you are researching real estate trends, your primary sources will be people who are buying or selling homes in the area of your interest. 

2. The Right Questions

Getting the answers you need depends on asking the right questions.  In most cases, you do not need to ask open-ended questions; you will be asking survey takers to choose from the options you offer them.  The research firm can help you develop the questions that will get you the information you need

3. The Right Conclusions

One risk when just starting out in marketing research is that it can lead to faulty conclusions.  As the old saying goes, correlation does not equal causation.  For example, the fact that people who purchase white underwear also purchase breakfast cereal probably have nothing to do with each other. 

Clear objectives and working with an experienced researcher that understands how to design research that will have an impact are key.  There is no reason to finish research and feel like you are lost and questioning whether you got what you needed.  

4. The Right Insights

The goal of market research is to gain insights into behavior and market trends.  Not all insights are equal though; to be useful, your insights must be accurate, authoritative and actionable. An equally important priority for you after setting up the research to succeed is to allocate time for incorporating the primary research output into your client's strategy.

The benefits of well-done primary research are clear, but the path leading to them is a grey area.  If you hope to ask the right questions and gain valuable insights for your customers, an experienced research firm can help you do your job better.

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