The theologian J.I. Packer once said,
To be effective, all tools must be used to their best advantage.
Market research is one such tool; and if used to the best of its ability, it’s enormously helpful. When leveraged poorly, however, market research can do more harm than good—like pruning flowers with the wrong end of your shears. So in the spirit of Throwback Thursday, we wanted to get back to basics and share a few of our top tips for maximizing your research in any situation.
1. Keep an Open Mind
One of the easiest ways to sabotage market research is to embark on a study with a closed mind. When the results of a study have little or no capacity to affect your foregone conclusions, the research is obviously irrelevant to your business issue and, thus, a waste of resources. Often, the most useful research results are the discoveries that manage to surprise you. So enter every research project with the intention of learning something new, and you probably will.
2. No Idea is Precious
One of the hardest lessons a writer can learn is when to “kill your darlings:” to go back and edit the lines and ideas you love so much that you may become blind to their actual value. The same idea applies to getting the most out of your research. Particularly in quantitative research, your favored concept or packaging idea will sometimes perform poorly with consumers. This is when it becomes imperative that you detach from your darlings for the sake of research, and evaluate the data independently of your prior attachments. But if you’re curious as to why, exactly, some concept or ad didn’t fare well with customers, consider probing further with a qualitative exploration of consumer impressions.
3. Lay The Foundation
“When you ask bad questions, you get bad answers:” it’s a market research cliché for a reason. Precision is key to getting the data you need to address a given business problem. If your research goals are not defined, then it’s likely the results will fail to clarify the issue. Conversely, if you try to get too much out of a single study, the findings may not be focused enough to give clear direction. Essentially, good research is the result of deliberate, diligent, and decisive preparation. When designing a study, make sure that the questions you are asking will capture the information you need: otherwise, the results may not guide you to helpful conclusions. This is where leveraging a research expert to help write the guide and stay laser focused on your research goals could be of significant benefit.
4. Have a Roadmap for Results
A strategy for how research results will be used is immensely helpful for planning the study itself. As mentioned above, a lack of purpose can derail even the most thoughtful projects. A stated goal for the resulting conclusions ensures that consumer insights will not gather dust, but rather enjoy immediate application to a pressing business issue. From drafting discussion guides, to determining a target audience, to reporting results; an intentional roadmap for how data will be used optimizes every step of the process, and connects results with your distinctive needs.
5. Plan for the Unexpected
Sometimes in research, results don’t always come back the way we expect. Maybe the concepts you thought would kill it in testing didn’t perform well at all; or perhaps you’re left with even more questions after your exploratory qualitative research. Having an agile tool in your researcher toolkit that can give you a quick read is essential to answering consumer questions at the speed of business. Whether you’d like to know why your concepts performed the way they did, or you want to dig deeper to understand more about the responses from your exploratory work, agile research enables you to get the answers you need without falling behind on your timeline.
As online market research experts, we’ve found that even the most complicated research questions can benefit from getting back to basics. Hopefully these tips will help put you on the simple, straight-forward track to quality insights, no matter the objective. And to learn more about the do’s and don’ts of conducting agile online qualitative research, download the helpful eGuide below.