1 Setting Goals

Back to the Basics: Research Goals for Research Success

by Jenny on October 20, 2023 Comments Off on Back to the Basics: Research Goals for Research Success

One of the key aspects of successful feedback research is having clearly defined goals and objectives. This may seem obvious, but it’s a commonly overlooked aspect of project planning. Not that brands skip it as a project planning phase altogether, rather it’s breezed through without getting as granular as needed. So, in getting back to the basics of feedback research, I’d like to share a few important elements when it comes to setting project goals and articulating desired outcomes.

Start with the Big ‘Why’

Imagine you’re planning a vacation. One of the first things to think about is why you’re going. Is it to relax and unwind? Is it to find action and adventure? Is it to visit a new place or see new sights? Knowing why you’re going on the trip will help jumpstart decision making processes.

Well, it’s the same with market research and customer insights. Do you want to boost sales, improve products/services, understand customers or competitors better, strengthen the customer’s journey, etc? Your ‘why’ is your North Star. It will serve as the guiding light throughout each step, ensuring your efforts stay focused and productive.

Define Your Objectives

Once you’ve nailed the ‘why,’ it’s time to get specific. What specifically do you want to achieve? Your objectives should be clear, concise, and have an action-oriented foundation. Do you want to increase your customer base by 20% in the next year? Do you want to raise satisfaction scores by 2 or more points? Do you want to shift your strategic positioning from X to Y? Specificity is key because these objectives serve as guardrails as you plan each market research project. You’re essentially setting the target you want to hit. So, the clearer the target, the better you can aim.

Paint a Picture of “Success”

Achieving success starts with having a detailed picture of success. By outlining and articulating desired outcomes, internal teams can operate with a shared vision and understanding. This process also sparks meaningful dialogue between individuals and departments involved. It provides a chance to establish internal alignment and make sure everyone is rowing in the same direction. Any discrepancies in success definitions are best addressed prior to launching a project, rather than realizing after the fact that there are conflicting perspectives and opinions.

Know Your Target Audience

Just as you wouldn’t serve steak to a vegetarian, your market research goals should be tailored to your target audience. Who are they? What is most important to them? How are their pain points and preferences the same or different? Ultimately, success is about asking the right people the right questions at the right time. This starts with identifying and understanding who those ‘right people’ are.

Make It Measurable

To determine whether a project is successful, the objectives must be measurable. If they aren’t measurable, it’s like a treasure hunt with no map. Use metrics like percentages, sales figures, or survey responses to track your progress. The first iteration of a market research project can be used to both capture actionable insights and set performance benchmarks. Gathering that benchmark data will equip you with comparative insights, so the next project can gauge progress and movement.

Keep It Realistic

We all like to dream big, but market research goals should be achievable. Be honest about what’s feasible within your resources and timeframe. If you’re a small startup, conquering the entire global market may be a tad ambitious. Even large-scale businesses with vast resources can’t build Rome in a day. So, it’s ok to start small and build as you go. Sometimes it’s those incremental wins and micro-victories that are needed to motivate and inspire ongoing efforts.

Keep It Relevant

Ask yourself, “Is this goal relevant to my business?” A goal that doesn’t align with your mission or industry likely isn’t worth pursuing. Your goals should have a clear connection to your overall business strategy. Also ask yourself, “Is this goal relevant to our customers?” At the end of the day, feedback research is meant to help deliver best-in-class products, services, and experiences. So, the most relevant goals will benefit the customers as much as your business.

Flexibility Matters

Market research can be full of surprises. Be prepared to adjust your goals if new opportunities or challenges arise. It’s like taking a detour during your road trip to explore a hidden gem. But don’t let side-tracks derail the entire project. Make note of value-add opportunities and new pathways so that you can revisit them after following all the way through with the initial objectives. Then, regroup and choose which new opportunity to explore next.

Involve Cross-departmental Team Members

Feedback research isn’t a solo gig. Share your goals with your team. Hear their opinions and ideas. Collaboration often sparks brilliant discoveries, and it’s the key to unlocking truly actionable insights. When planning a project, include those who will ultimately be using the market research findings. Listen to their wants and needs to ensure the insights produced will have real-world value. If the data produced isn’t relevant to the end users within your organization, then the data will likely sit on the shelf collecting dust.

Document Everything

Lastly, jot it all down. Your goals, objectives, deadlines, and any changes along the way. It’s your research journal. It helps you stay organized and gives you something to look back on. It will also serve as a guideline for future research projects. Make note of what worked and what can be done differently. Evolving into a data-driven business is an ongoing and iterative process that grows and evolves over time.

Setting market research goals is like charting your course on a treasure hunt. The better your map, the closer you get to that buried treasure of insights. So, go ahead, set those goals, and let your market research adventure begin!


Jenny Dinnen is President of Sales and Marketing at MacKenzie Corporation. Driven to maximize customer's value and exceed expectations, Jenny carries a can-do attitude wherever she goes. She maintains open communication channels with both her clients and her staff to ensure all goals and objectives are being met in an expeditious manner. Jenny is a big-picture thinker who leads MacKenzie in developing strategies for growth while maintaining a focus on the core services that have made the company a success. Basically, when something needs to get done, go see Jenny. Before joining MacKenzie, Jenny worked at HD Supply as a Marketing Manager and Household Auto Finance in their marketing department. Jenny received her undergrad degree in Marketing from the University of Colorado (Boulder) and her MBA from the University of Redlands.

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