April 2014

Make Sure Your Research Leads to Action!

Dear Reader,

Are you thinking of taking your business into a new market, or wondering how to offer an even better service to your existing customers? A good way to decide which direction to take is by carrying out some marketing research and studying the results.

But results are not enough! You need research and results that both lead you towards action. If you're poised to ‘spring' into action, this issue of our newsletter is full of practical tips to help you commission the right research and get you where you want to be.

 Happy reading!

Best wishes,

Martin Holliss

e: martinh@research-insight.com
t: +44 1235 812 456
m: +44 7931 376501

How do You Make Sure Your Research Leads to Action?

There are several thinks to think about when commissioning research, all of which make a real difference.

Choose a champion. Making sure your research leads to action requires leadership. Someone senior is needed – ideally at board level – to ensure that the issues and actions identified by the research are high on your organisation's priority list. Without such a champion, there is unlikely to be commitment to taking action.

Focus on the possible. When designing your research study, think about the nature of the decisions you might take. That way the research is more likely to reveal action or initiatives that are feasible for your organisation. For example, if your Board is firmly against making any capital investment it may be silly for your research to focus on that option, and your research agency should explore other areas and solutions.

Be open-minded. Recommendations must be feasible for your business, but you also need to consider other issues or problems that the research raises. They might not be what you expected but could be important, so expect the unexpected!

Keep your research brief simple. Once you’ve decided to invest in some research, don’t be tempted to try to cover dozens of topics and issues. Without clear focus, the results will be woolly. Much better to focus your research brief on a limited set of clearly-defined issues.

Be clear about your objectives. Define 3-5 bullet point objectives that can be expressed in one sentence. ‘To better understand …’, ‘To explore …', ‘To quantify…’, or ‘To assess the effect of A on B’. Expressing your objectives like this will help you focus your thoughts and will give your agency a clear idea of what you want to discover.

Insist on robust recommendations.  If you want your research study to lead to action, you need your agency to make a set of recommendations that are based on the actions you can take. Having an agency present findings is not enough. Insist that they stick their neck out and make clear, fact based and action-focused recommendations.

Ensure that action is actioned. Once you have your research results and recommendations, bring your stakeholders together to decide what to do next. The main purpose of this highly practical session is to agree actions and have people take responsibility for taking them.

Follow these tips - and the ones below about how to complete the final stage - and you'll get much more from your investment in research. You'll get results and actions!

How Do You Get Buy-in and Responsibility for Actions?

A powerful way to guarantee action is to run an “AM/PM Workshop” with all those who need to be involved.

For the morning session, invite 12-15 people to attend. They should be both internal and external, drawn from employees, customers, distributors, suppliers, journalists and other interested groups. After a short introduction to the situation, including headlines from your research, brainstorm what is happening and why, who you can learn the most from (such as specific competitors) and what needs to be changed or improved.

Have an independent facilitator for this session (so you can contribute actively to the discussion) and make sure the full range of issues are covered. Allow 2-3 hours, with a break for coffee and sticky buns!

After a buffet lunch, invite a smaller group of decision-makers to reconvene for the afternoon session. This is usually an internal staff only session. Your aim is to prioritise the issues and possible actions and then to decide what to change, who should do it and by when. Don’t let anyone leave the room until all the desired actions have been assigned a champion and a deadline!