Developing quality market research leads to success in branding, product promotion and, of course, praise from your superiors! But, it doesn’t happen on its own. Even the most detailed, strategic plans can be subject to failure if common research pitfalls wreak havoc.
Novice and veteran market research professionals can fall into traps that lead them into doomed studies. Avoid project-related stress and mitigate project risk by implementing these five proactive marketing research standards:
1. Plan Timelines
Obviously, studies that result from last-minute requests are trickier and more prone to error. There is simply less time to squeeze in all of the details and ensure quality recruitment. When possible, avoid tight project timelines. And, yes -- I hear you protesting! Tight turnarounds are part of the game. But, if you can see that a deadline prevents quality work from being accomplished, speak up and finesse the timeline so that the project has a chance to be successful from the front end.
2. Establish goals and objectives early.
Think through the purpose of the project and analyze the intent of the study. Create a list of the questions you want answered through qualitative research. What are the best methods to get you there? Brainstorm alternative ways the study can help you understand your brand from a new perspective. When you identify the goal of the study and the objectives you expect to achieve, you will increase your chances of avoiding pitfalls. Additionally, avoid scope changes partway through the project, simply by doing your homework and analysis ahead of time.
3. Develop a realistic screener.
What are the main qualifications for the respondents? Are you narrowing the scope too much? Is it too broad? Streamline your screener by eliminating details that don’t contribute to the objectives of your project. (Omit "data gathering" questions at this point.) Include details that you actually need for your project.
4. Avoid scrimping on a recruitment partner.
Utilize a vendor that offers updated databases that are maintained regularly. Ensure that your vendor tracks past participation. Working with a vendor who has extensive (up-to-date) national and international databases will deliver qualified candidates for your project. Experience is also important, especially, if you have a recruit that requires going beyond database. If you scrimp and choose a partner with less experience or resources, you risk not having enough participants, or worse, not having the right participants. Ask your recruitment partner if they employ alternative methods of recruitment, such as networking through organizations or referrals, flyering, industry event contacts, social media outreach and advertising through local media outlets
5. Communicate with your recruitment vendor.
Discuss challenging issues ahead of time. Compare notes on your screener. Relay specific concerns about focus group facility needs, recruitment or incentives. Address the potential for obstacles, instead of trying to solve problems when you’re short on time. Keep all parties informed of issues and expectations for best possible results. After all, if nobody knows what you’re worried about or the details you need changed, they can’t do their jobs. And, then, neither can you.
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