To DIY or not to DIY.
Here are ten questions you need to ask yourself before deciding which option to take:
- do you do your own research;
- do you consult with a professional research agency to do your research for you, or;
- do you do without research / insight and proceed on gut-feel?
10. When did you last sit down and listen to what customers want?
It is widely accepted that the growth of social media and other smart technologies means that traditional processes of customer decision making have changed forever. Your customers have access to information and product/service reviews like never before. Organisations can no longer rely on the traditional means of brand building. Successful, sustainable brands are built more by what they do than what they say. Customer needs and behaviours are continually changing and evolving – faster than ever. Expectations are rising. Organisations need to listen to their customers more regularly and more intently than ever before.
9. Do you have the willing?
Do you have the desire to hear, warts and all, what your customer think? Can you commit to changing and restructuring how you think, operate, behave and communicate based on what you learn?
8. Do you have the time?
Will fresh research and insight make it to the top of your to-do-list, or will something else always take priority? Can you commit the time to doing the research yourself properly, or will compromises be made because of other commitments?
7. Can you design an interview survey with the necessary ‘flow’ and techniques to tease out the golden nuggets?
Questionnaire design is a skill that benefits from an expert’s touch like any other.
6. Can you ask the questions in a dispassionate manner?
Can a business truly deliver its own surveys without an element of bias? Can you probe for a full deep understanding (not ‘take as read’ the top-of-mind response). Will you hear what you want to hear – or stop probing once you think your suppositions have been verified?
5. Do you know how to analyse and interpret research data?
Bias can also come through in terms of how survey results are analysed and interpreted. Data can easily be misread or misinterpreted at face value. Do you have the skills to dig deep, to explore sub-groups and to interrogate data with statistical techniques?
Independent research partners never make assumptions. They never leave a stone unturned. Most can also provide useful benchmarks from similar studies within and across sectors.
4. Do you know who you should be talking to?
One of the pitfalls of companies looking to do their own research is that they will naturally target the ‘lowest hanging fruit’ – the ones they always hear from, the ones they know are more likely to say yes to a survey invitation. An independent agency will help with sample framework design (and, if necessary, sourcing of contacts) so that the research audience is aligned to the organisation’s commercial priorities. Should we be speaking to your loyal customers (retention), your occasional customers (increasing spend), or prospect/competitor customers (acquisition). Should we be targeting any specific segment, behaviour trait, market/region or demographic?
3. Will your customers be honest?
Will the customers you engage with respond differently to YOU asking the questions (versus someone who is independent)? Will they tell you what they think you want to hear?
2. Can you afford not to base your business decisions on insight?
For some, it is about keeping a step ahead. For others, it is about catching up. Whatever the context, market research should be viewed as one of a number of great tools for helping your business maximise opportunities. Though not designed to replace the instincts of the business decision maker, it can complement them.
It is often reassuring to have expert research data available to help support and guide the key decision making. Market research is about as close to an insurance policy as you can get in this day and age – and surely anything that reduces the risk of doing business is worth consideration!
1. Talk to an agency or two.
Independent market research might not be as expensive as what you might think. Online methods mean that the costs associated with reaching customer samples with targeted surveys is on the way down. You would be surprised at what can be achieved, even with a four-figure budget.
For more information and inspiration, read this case study on how start-up company Escentially Smooth recently used targeted insights to inform its launch strategy.
Or give the team at Mustard a call on +44(0)1625 628000.