For most organisations, committing to do research is a major undertaking. Not only are you putting money behind it you are also committing a lot of effort and expecting a good return at the end of it, either in the form of insight that can be used internally or figures that can be used in news stories.
Sometimes, though, organisations can feel dissatisfied or unfulfilled after completing a piece of research. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Having worked in research over the past decade, here are a few things that I think that all clients should expect when commissioning research.
Make sure your agency properly understands your objectives
Too often agencies take a superficial approach to a client’s project – serving up basic data that only just scratches the surface of what they need. But “good enough” is no longer good enough and as a basic requirement you should really expect more.
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Given the value your organisation places on the research and the investment you are making in it, any research company worth its salt will take the time to ensure that instead of a survey that treads water you get data that helps you make waves.
A decent research agency will take the time to fully understand your organisation’s objectives – why you need the data, how it fits into your work and how it can help you achieve your aims. Only by having an in-depth discussion at the start of the project can they ensure that they deliver you the best advice and most meaningful results.
Make the data work as hard as possible
If you are going to undertake research you should make sure that it does everything you need it to. But you should also expect your research agency to make the data work as hard as possible for you.
Your research agency should not be passive robots in the process but they should instead be active participants in any research project – advising on extra angles you should consider or different approaches you could take.
Good researchers should take the time at the start of the project to think through what areas you want the data to illuminate. By doing this you will ensure that the data is actionable as soon as it is back from the field and you don’t waste valuable time having to re-analyse the data in post-production.
The most innovative research houses also have a huge store of existing data that can be used to provide even deeper analysis so check to see that they can offer this.
Get full post-project support
Getting the results back from the field represents a beginning, not an end. You should expect to go over the findings in detail with your research agency.
Doing this helps you to quickly and accurately draw out conclusions that can then be used immediately. Whether the data is being used for a press releases, a pitch presentation, for internal analysis or for other purposes, getting proper post-project support is vital to realising the potential of research.
Be inclusive: Researchers should be responsive to the needs of your whole company
A research agency can be your secret weapon by being responsive to your unexpected needs – whether it be providing data for a board-level meeting, being on a call with important stakeholders, etc.
However, the only way to be able to fully draw on this resource is if you expose the research team to enough of the right people. By directly involving the research agency in your team’s work and vice versa you can stop important details getting missed and be sure that you can go to them directly and get a quick response.
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