Editor’s note: Scott Fiaschetti is director, consumer insights, of Questus, a New York digital advertising agency. He can be reached at scott.fiaschetti@questus.com. This article appeared in the September 24, 2012, edition of Quirk’s e-newsletter. 

Researchers are caring by nature. We worry about many things during a project. We make sure every last detail of the survey is perfect. We write - and rewrite - questions, thinking about that one person who might not understand what we mean. We continually test the survey and monitor it all very closely as the completes start coming in. Are we going over quota? What is the drop-off? Is the survey too long?  

But then, finally, it is done. The data is collected and we dig in. 

Over the course of writing the report, we develop a keen insight into all the subtleties and details of the data we are examining. Because of this, we want to make sure clients (internal or external) know about every last interesting difference we find. This typically results in a 50-plus-page report with hundreds, if not thousands, of data points and a variety of graphs, charts and tables. We of course sum it up in a concise executive summary, hoping that it will interest a senior executive just enough to dive into the rest of the immensely interesting minutiae of data. 

And that is our problem: We are hoping that someone is going read it.

In my almost 20 years in the field, my experience has been that no matter how compelling we make the deck, no marketing manager or senior executive wants to read half of a report to find out why his new product idea sucks and how to fix it. They don’t even want to read half of a report if it’s good news. In fact, the typical experience is that they are going to take the three or four key ideas talked about in the presentation and make them their talking points. They rarely go back to the deck....