Skip to: Main Content / Navigation

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Add This

5 steps to set your MR project up for success



Article ID:
20131225-3
Published:
December 2013
Author:
Frank Pleticha

Article Abstract

Laying out a five-step process for research design, this article details the questions practitioners should ask themselves before beginning a project to help ensure that it is successful.

Editor's note: Frank Pleticha is lead consultant at answers2action LLC, a Brooklyn Center, Minn., research company. He can be reached at frankpleticha@gmail.com. This article appeared in the December 9, 2013, edition of Quirk's e-newsletter.

The garbage in, garbage out principle has never been so true as when it's applied to the design of marketing research. Too often, researchers begin a project with a list of survey questions or a technique in mind. The outcome is typically a long, cumbersome survey instrument, leading to data with little actionability. Worse, the researchers have positioned themselves as techies and not as true, value-added consultants to the marketing decision maker.
 
Here's how to avoid that failure scenario. This five-step research design process has worked successfully for me over the course of a couple hundred research projects.
 
First, ground yourself in the type of marketing decision the company needs to make. Strategic or tactical? Are you exploring new territory or trying to explain something you're already seeing in the marketplace?
 
Secondly, ask yourself: What's at stake here? What's the cost of a wrong decision? If you think of research as a risk-management tool, how large does the research-driven "insurance policy" need to be? If the cost of a wrong marketing decision is only $10,000, you wouldn't want to propose a $50,000 marketing research study to guard against this (relatively) small mistake.  Conversely, if the cost of a wrong decision runs in the millions, then a $50,000 - or even a $100,000 - research study might be appropriate.
 
Third, given what you've learned from steps one and two, ask the decision makers to identify what they really need to know. What data will inform the marketing decision and what is just nice-to-know?
 
Fourth, how, specifically, are you going to use these insights once obtained? I've found it's helpful at this early stage to invent a hypothetical answer and run it past the decision maker as a type of sanity check. For example, if you learn that 62 percent of this market segment doesn't shop online, how will knowing that impact your business decision? If you can't link a potential finding to some type of action, consider dropping that question from the survey.
 
Fifth and finally, what, if anything, do you already know about these issues from secondary sources? Perhaps 25 percent of the answers already exist and you don't need to develop survey questions in a primary research project to reconfirm what's already known.

Valuable partners

It's only after I have answers to these five questions that I start to think about the research technique and the data collection instrument. Using this five-step research design process places the cart behind the horse and helps to ensure that you're seen as a valuable contributing partner to senior-level decision makers.

Comment on this article

comments powered by Disqus

Related Glossary Terms

Search for more...

Related Events

RIVA COURSE 501: FACILITATION - PRACTICAL TOOLS, TIPS AND TECHNIQUES
August 11-13, 2014
RIVA Training Institute will hold a course, themed 'Facilitation - Practical Tools, Tips, and Techniques,' on August 11-13 in Rockville, Md.
RIVA COURSE 202: SKILL ACCELERATION
September 8-10, 2014
RIVA Training Institute will hold a course, themed 'Skill Acceleration' on September 8-10 in Rockville, Md.

View more Related Events...

Related Articles

There are 857 articles in our archive related to this topic. Below are 5 selected at random and available to all users of the site.

Trade Talk: A certifiably good idea
A look at the Marketing Research Association’s Professional Researcher Certification program.
Software Review: WinCross 14
Freelance data processor Eric Ramon outlines why he’s still sold on his favorite tab package.
Why isn't more research commissioned?
The author addresses companies or pockets within companies that could commission research but don't and offers insight into what deters them from research.
The missing link: Why VOE is as vital as VOC
This article stresses the importance of voice-of-the-employee and employee satisfaction research initiatives and suggests ways organizations can use customer-facing employees to improve their offerings.
Money isn't everything
This article reports on the second phase of an ongoing research project about respondent motivation for participating in research, especially focus group sessions. The study used two focus groups, one paid and one unpaid, to explore this issue in more depth than in Phase 1 of the study. (Phase 1 was the subject of a May 1990 Quirk's article. A follow-up was published in the June 1992 issue.)

See more articles on this topic

Related Discussion Topics

Market research report
08/20/2013 by Aarkstore Store
Most commonly used research techniques
07/28/2010 by Curtis J. Fedder
yes, I have experience with those ethics issues
06/23/2010 by Michael R. Hollon
Ethics
06/11/2010 by Jim Santilli
Research and analysis to foresight your business perspective
02/19/2010 by Emmanuel M. Mendy

View More