Market research consultants can be an invaluable resource that help businesses define their optimal research objectives, guide the process forward, take advantage of opportunities. Perhaps most important of all, they can also help mitigate or avoid risks that if left unchecked can undermine the investment in market research and lead to biased, unreliable or flat-out incorrect conclusions.
However, you may have honed in on the word “can” in the above paragraph. While most market research consultants are competent and capable, every field has those who “over-promise and under-deliver,” and the market research consulting world is no exception.
With this in mind, here is what to look for when hiring a market research consultant, to ensure that the relationship is rewarding, the investment is sound, and results meet – or better yet, exceed – your expectations:
1. Areas of Expertise
Even among professional and capable market research consultants, there are various specializations and area of expertise. For example, some may have a deep background in the agricultural space, while others may have networks, tools and resources that were honed working in IT, healthcare, engineering, pharma, consumer electronics, and the list goes on.
Once the relationship is officially underway, you will doubtlessly have questions and requests; some more urgent than others. Regardless of the severity or importance, you should never have to “chase down” a consultant. A lack of responsiveness is not just unprofessional, but it is a red flag as it will invariably drive up your risks, costs…and stress!
3. Following Your Instructions
When it comes to certain aspects of market research (or perhaps all of them depending on your background and experience), your market research consultant will probably know more than you. This is not just normal, but it is required. After all, you expect your doctor to know more about anatomy and biology, your lawyer to know more about laws and regulations, your accountant to know more about taxes and compliance, and so on. That is why you hire them in the first place!
Yet this inherently asymmetric relationship should in no way manifest as your market research consultant steamrolling through your project, or trying to push you into accepting their recommended methodology (not because it is necessarily the right one, but because it is their preferred one!). Yes, your market research consultant should provide you with recommendations and advice. But ultimately, you must hold the hammer, give the instructions, and make the decisions – and a qualified market research consultant would not want it any other way.
4. In-House vs. Outsourcing
It is sometimes necessary for a market research consultant to outsource certain functions or services. However, there is a categorical difference from this occasional case-by-case outsourcing vs. an outsourcing approach that is automatic. An automatic outsourcing approach means that your market research consultant is nothing more than a representative while a third party (or multiple third parties) do the actual market research work.
Therefore, when hiring a market research consultant, you want to be sure that their team can handle the market research that needs to be done. If they do outsource particular parts of the market research process, it’s important to know this beforehand as outsourcing everything invariably leads to confusion, delays, risks and added costs.
At Communications For Research, we are proud to serve as market research consultants to businesses that are implementing their own research project, as well as marketing agencies that are implementing research projects on behalf of their clients. We can provide one piece of the puzzle, such as recruiting, or we can take a leadership role from end-to-end.
To learn more, contact our team today and you’ll speak with our co-CEO Colson Steber. While learning more about your business and research opportunities, Colson can provide you with market research advice and he can develop a quote based on your budget and timeline.
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