The first phase of an effective marketing research process is researching your Inventory.
Project planning is vital to the research process because it can save time and money. It also helps evaluate unforeseen problems that could occur during the process. Most importantly, it can be used as a guide for future projects.
Stumbling out of the gate can send the entire research project off course, and after the project launch, it is extremely difficult to change course. Once resources are spent on survey development, production, and distribution, there is no backpedaling. Therefore, project planning is vital and understanding your current data/research environment is a great place to start.
The current state of your data
Determining the current state of your data inventory will help provide an understanding of what your company already knows. It will also help guide the process of what your company needs to know moving forward. This process includes examining previous research efforts for outlining the types of questions, sample sizes and timing of past projects. This information can ensure that future research efforts maintain a sense of continuity (which will help maximize the value of newly acquired data) and that past research mistakes are not repeated.
Too often we see a company waste time and resources with repetitive research efforts. Considering the scope of research currently being conducted is also very important. This is not only an avoidable mistake, it is damaging to the overall strategy in that your customer base may have a limit to their willingness for participating in your research projects. Oversaturating the customer base with duplicate surveys may frustrate them and make them less inclined to participate in the future.
Have a unified approach to data
Lastly, after examining past research efforts and considering current research efforts, communicate these findings to all relevant stakeholders within your company. If departments are segmented and operate independently, then a cohesive research strategy will help ensure a unified approach to data collection and analysis. This will maximize the usefulness of the data collected, and it will maximize the return on your research investment(s).
Check back soon as we will discuss the second phase of this process; clearly defining your research strategy. I am happy to provide additional information on any of these topics as needed, so please feel free to post a comment below.