Most market research programmes involve many different stages, from understanding the initial business need or problem at the start, designing the project in terms of scope and methodology, undertaking desk research and quantitative and qualitative fieldwork, to the analysis and reporting stage at the end. Each of these steps require a substantial amount of labour and specialist skills to carry out.
For this reason, ensuring a smooth and successful market research project isn’t easy, and the best results always come from well-organised and well-executed programmes run by specialist market research agencies.
With over 3,500 studies under our belts and over 180,000 interviews carried out each year, here are our top 5 tips that will make the running of your next market research program a success.
Kick off meetings are an excellent way to start any research project. These meetings are crucial in getting all senior stakeholders fully briefed, on board and engaged with the research program. The meeting should be used not only to build engagement but also to fully explore project objectives, scope, methodology, deliverables and the all-important timings. Preference should be for a face-to-face kick off meeting, but time and budget pressures can often make the telephone or a conferencing solution a more viable option.
Kick off meetings work best when there is a clear agenda, you also need to make sure you have enough time to discuss everything that needs to be covered. Try to make the meeting more interactive for those invited, get attendees to do some pre-work beforehand or run some workshop-style exercises to stimulate your stakeholders.
Have a dedicated point of contact who will take overall ownership for the research. Within the team responsible for looking after the research program, assign a project lead to make sure things stay on track. Give the project lead overall responsibility for making the project a success, empower this person to make decisions and delegate when appropriate.
Building a team around the dedicated point of contact, who can assist with the day-to-day management of the project, will help in avoiding delays when they are unavailable. However, make sure the day-to-day team is small, maybe 2-3 people. Getting too many people involved can ultimately result in inefficiencies and slow progress with too much input at each stage.
Create a project schedule – your research is only as good as your plan. Create a detailed Gantt chart and outline all the individual stages of the project, remember to highlight your critical path and note down what needs to be done, by who and by when. Project schedules are very useful in managing expectations and timings, they also help in reminding people to complete tasks on time. If timings allow, add a week of lag time at each major stage of the project, those being set-up, fieldwork and analysis.
Communicate frequently – a weekly call is an excellent way to keep the research on track. Communication is key to the success of any project, calls should be used to reassure and inform clients of the current progress and set expectations for the weeks ahead. There should be no surprises at the end of a project so any potential issues should be highlighted during these calls, whether it be a change of approach or a delay that will impact the overall timings.
Finally, prepare for the unexpected and be open to change – projects rarely run completely to plan so those with flexibility often have the best chance in meeting all the research objectives.