How To Get Market Research To Go Beyond Insights

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I’ve seen some awesome research reports — really detailed, well-thought out research with shiny graphs. I’ve also seen some terrible research reports with random findings and dubious methodologies.

Unfortunately, most of them get lumped together. Stellar, horrible, doesn’t seem to make a difference often enough. Upper management opens up their trash bin drawer, files the report away under “smart things we did” and calls it a day and departments go on as usual.

Great report, zero impact. I’ve seen it and I’ve heard the gripes from other industry researchers. How can we do research better?

Recommend actionable business solutions. Get into the head of who is consuming the research. Is it a designer? A marketer? A CEO? At the end of the day, research should help me make decisions on what to do next. Sometimes the findings don’t help bridge that gap between what I now know and what I should now do. The best researchers are those that give enough information and guidance in their interpretations of the findings to help empower decision makers.

Make sure the research objectives align with overall business objectives. If we don’t constantly check in the make sure that 1) we understand our client’s overall business objectives and 2) our research is in the service of giving them real intelligence to meet those objectives, then why are we doing it?

  • Check before you embark on the research strategy.
  • Check again while you’re creating the materials.
  • Check a third time when you are analyzing the data.
  • Check before you send/present the report.

Help transform research insights into measurable KPIs. A lot of the times we find insights, we present them, and if they hit the mark, people may want to act on them. But how do they know how to measure if their changes were successful? Help give your client some ideas on how they can measure success based on what we know from the research and they are more likely to reconsider that long research report you grueled over.

Less text, better graphs. The higher up your research project goes, the less time people have to pour over your work. Make it short and snappy.

  • Bullet point where possible
  • Create visual cues to draw the reader’s eye to important points (i.e., icons, elevated text boxes, font characteristics, etc.)
  • Make sure things are labeled well
  • Understand what graphs are best for what information
  • Test comprehension with a non data person, if they don’t understand the graph, you failed

Bottom line, get into the mind of your client’s needs and make it easier for them to truly apply your research. All of a sudden your research goes from paper weight to strategic roadmap — and that’s what research should be doing.