So, while there might not be a one-stop shop for guaranteed success for anything in this world, there are certainly guides that can definitely help to increase your chances. This, I’m hoping, is one of them.
The success of market research in particular relies on a lot of different variables, and one very important factor is the process that researchers take. The research process can have one of two results, it can either be successful and provide the insights that a researcher needs, or it can fail and not provide any actionable insights whatsoever.
This process, if designed and implemented well, can help secure a lot of variables that might have otherwise made your research take a turn for the worst.
1. Firstly, a Plan
Creating a plan is the pivotal first step to a successful market research process. As FlexMR’s CMO, Chris Martin, stated in another of our blogs, “a market research plan, similar to a brief, is a vital document that details important information about your market research project.”
Research should be also planned with the participants in mind. What methods are going to keep their attention? What tone of voice and question wording are they going to respond to most? Planning your research to make it as accessible as possible will enable your research to reach it’s highest potential.
A good plan should include a detailed outline of the objectives (both research and business aligned), desired outcomes, timeline, target audience, budget, and the desired methods used. With all of this information laid out in front of you, it will be easier to spot any flaws, or any missing important elements that the success of the research process might hinge on.
2. Plan Implementation
After thoroughly planning out the research process, implementing the plan is the natural next step. So, this means creating and setting up the research tasks, inviting the relevant participants to take part, and then moderating the research tasks and watching the insights pour in.
Of course, there is a lot more to do during this step, not in the least keeping an eye out for any elements of the plan that don’t/won’t work, or need tweaking in order for them to reach their full potential. This critical eye of the researcher is necessary in this stage, but essential in the next.
3. Research Evaluation
As the process is implemented, the third evaluative step begins. So, while the research plan is pivotal, it isn’t a rigid structure to follow intensely; the researcher implementing the plan should be aware enough to consider any limitations that presented in the implementation stage.
As the implementation step is happening, pay close attention to the participants and how they are reacting in real-time to your research. Study the responses after each task has been completed, and note down improvements if the insights that are gained aren’t as valuable as first hoped. Brainstorm other methodologies, tactics, or research amendments that might make the process more efficient and effective. Agile research such as this is the key to all successful business endeavours. This evaluation stage is critical to make your research process agile enough to gain the best chances of success.
4. Refining the Plan
In order to be fully agile in your research process, taking the insights gained from the evaluation stage and using them to change and refine your research process is critical. This type of agility is what makes research successful.
These valuable evaluative insights will either point towards what can be done to improve the research process, or will significantly narrow down the options that researchers can take. But whatever improvements researchers make must be conducive to the aim of implementing a better, more advanced research process.
5. Implementing Improvements
Similar to step number two, this step is all about implementing the new plan with all of the improvements, which were identified in the evaluation and refining stages. In this stage, going through the tasks already set up and making the improvements identified, and even setting up a few new tasks if that is what’s required for the improvement of the research methodology, will enable a more accurate, enjoyable, and ultimately a more successful research process.
Recruit the sample into the new tasks, making sure that the final wording is effective for more clarity and accuracy. This step is for smoothing out any rough edges and tidying up the phrasing and moderating until it’s tight, effective, and will result in exactly the insights that the researchers need.
6. Reporting Insights
This report compiles and segments all of the actionable insights gathered from the whole process. There are a good range of insights that can be gathered from here, so segmenting them into the relevant categories will be necessary for ease of finding them again.
Actioning the insights is the last step in a successful research process, and is arguably the most important step of all; great insights have the potential to influence great decisions all around the business.
There are two basic categories that your insights will inevitably fall into: firstly, insights relevant to your research objectives, and secondly, insights relevant to future research processes. Both types of insights are intensely useful, the insights relating to the research processes will enable researchers to conduct the research process more effectively and the insights relevant to your research objectives will enable those in key positions to make decisions more efficiently.
7. Actioning Insights
Actioning the insights is the last step in a successful research process, and is arguably the most important step of all; each step in this process will have been for nothing if the resulting insights aren’t actioned upon.
Great insights have the potential to influence great decisions all around the business. Opening the research out to all departments will allow the the business as a whole to evolve and change into the best version of itself it can possibly be.
Successful Research isn’t Complicated
While each step and the order it’s completed in is important, to create the best chances for success, researchers must repeat steps 4 and 5 as many times as necessary to get the data that they need, but also to continuously implement steps 6 and 7 throughout the process to get the best idea of how successful their research process actually is.
The term “guaranteed success” is very subjective and depends very much on the desired outcomes held in mind by the business and researcher. This guide will go some way towards creating a successful research process, but no matter what, as long as there are insightful result generated, and those results are actioned upon by the business, then the research process will have been successful.
The original version of this article appeared on the FlexMR Insight Blog and can be accessed here.