Playbooks are a great educational tools present in all industries for a variety of different audiences. Sports playbooks are most likely the most well-known example of a playbook, containing key information on different strategies, players, locations, equipment, policies, ethos, future season scheduling, and so much more. But there are also sales playbooks and business playbooks that contain similar, but more specific business-orientated information and tactics.
These business playbooks help departments and teams stay aligned within the objectives and strategies playing out across an organisation, so all efforts ultimately aid in elevating the business and achieving those goals. Basically, these playbooks are akin to a bible for anyone with a vested interest in the sport or industry, team, and organisation.
A market research playbook is exactly like this, but for market research. Granted there aren’t as many famous examples to draw on as there are sports, business, and sales playbooks, but if we follow the example, attention to detail, and dedication of these playbooks and those who use them, insights teams in all industries can create or follow a market research playbook to help educate and inspire others to bring about success.
Market research playbooks can hold strategy scorecards, methodology pre-mixes, case study examples, and experience-based tips and tricks for each and every part of the research process from actual researchers, all to help insight professionals and stakeholders keep up to date with the latest technologies and strategies gracing the scene.
The information in these playbooks help enhance the level of knowledge, the sphere of influence, and impact of reach within an organisation or industry.
Benefits of a Market Research Playbook
In sports, a playbook is typically given to a new member of the team. These contain all of the previous plays that can and have been called in each situation and game, some of which can be combined and others that are more impactful played out on their own.
For in-house insight teams, it can be a very educational tool to help stakeholders understand the intricacies of each process, task, tool, methodology, and strategy, and a guide to what’s possible so we can manage any expectations and gaps in knowledge right from the start. With this information all handy in one place, the time it takes to commission research could be cut right down, and it can help insight professionals reduce the amount of hand-holding necessary as stakeholders could even use the playbook to help them script their own simple research tasks, leaving us to focus on where we can provide the most value in the value chain.
This in turn helps research strategies and the resulting insights to become more impactful, with the knowledge of, engagement in, and memorability of the insight generation process greatly enhanced. For in-house teams to reach the pinnacle of success, distribute the market research playbook throughout all departments in the organisation, raising awareness of the capabilities of the insight team and what value stakeholders can gain from market research. This will work to enhance the insights team brand and the reach of insights across the entire business.
It can also be a valuable aid as a training guide for any new starters, to help them familiarise themselves with each insight team’s ethos, perception of their role in the organisation and industry, the research technology stack that insights team is working with, and many other little details that they might have had to pick up along the way. Each new starter can study the market research playbook at home and refer to it if they have any general questions, and for those who are taking the new starter through everything can use it as a lesson plan of sorts to make sure they don’t miss anything out. But this isn’t a chance to rest on our laurels, this book should be updated regularly so it’s consistently true to form.
While in sports each team closely guards their playbook so others can’t plan against them easily, in market research the more we share our experiences across teams, businesses and agencies, the more we can learn and help each other reach new heights of innovation and success.
Creating Your Own Playbook
Creating a market research playbook from scratch can be a daunting task, and will certainly be a continuous task until all of the details are accurate and provide value within the playbook; but here are a few suggestions for what to include:
Incredibly important and useful for all who read the playbook: new starters and stakeholders alike. For the new starters it will be a guide on how to craft research tasks and strategies in the style of the insight team they’re working in, and for stakeholders it’s a guide to what’s possible, as well as a guide on how to set up the simpler tasks on their own if they have the right access.
Policies and Procedures
In terms of procedures, it could be similar to templates, in that stakeholders can follow the procedure of how to set up their own tasks. However, this goes deeper than simply laying our instructions. Policies and procedures can refer to the management of insight communities and panels, how to approach searching for new participants, new tools, new technologies to fit into the market research technology stack, the process for how to approach the insights team to propose a new research project, and so on.
Really think carefully about who the intended audience for this playbook is, and what policies they would need to know about or would add accurate value to their understanding of the insight team and their processes.
These are more than just the references referred to above. These are outlines of the strategies that have worked (or not worked if you want examples in there of what not to do), the best use-cases of certain strategies, and which tools fit well with which strategy.
This is a learn-by-example method that helps inspiration strike for insight professionals on the team, new starters if they find something the team might have missed, and stakeholders for what research is needed next.
The Technology Stack
A good rule of thumb is to lay out exactly what equipment, tools, and technologies the insight team has access to. This will provide the constraints for what’s possible, and help guide stakeholders, new starters, and insight teams on what research they want to conduct now, but also to think about what they might need to add in the future. Any future technologies included in this stack will need to be funded by the business, so being as open as possible here might encourage others to support the insight team in their search for more.
Tone of Voice and Brand Guidelines
The tone of voice within all research tasks and communications with participants should be considered, whether in its own section or within a ‘research design fundamentals’ section with instructional guidance on building the aesthetic of research project pages, tasks, etc. The tone of voice should best fit in with the brand guidelines, and this sets a good precedence for how insight teams take brand guidelines, objectives, and goals into account when designing research strategies. Matching the tone of voice of the playbook to other documents helps it feel like an official part of the business guidance documents, and so will retain the attention of other departments as a result.
Background Research Tasks
This one is important, especially when using it to raise their profile in the wider organisation. It helps the insight teams advertise how they manage the quality within research. Here is how we would detail the management techniques used, the quality control measures put in place, and the data privacy protocols in place (if this last one hasn’t already been covered in the Policies and Procedures section.
If insight teams can grab quick verbatim quotes from those they’ve conducted research for — preferably fairly well-known individuals or teams within the organisation — this can work wonders to enhance the profile of the playbook and thus the insight team themselves.
This article was originally published on the FlexMR Insights Blog and can be accessed here.