Market Research Tips to Ensure Meaningful and Actionable Results

Market research can be an invaluable tool to help client companies make the right decisions and take the most effective actions. It can also be more of an academic study. How you approach and use market research can influence whether your outcome is extraordinarily useful or ho-hum.

Here are a few tips on how to ensure your market research is both meaningful and actionable.

First, be clear on your goals. Why are you doing the research? What insights do you want from the research results? What is the decision that is being made? Or, what actions will be taken based on the research? Will the findings impact product development, positioning or branding, identify target market segments, sales cycles, customer loyalty, or something else?

Then, let the end goals ground you as you develop your research approach and questions. Ask yourself at each step, will this elicit the level of insight and information needed? If not, resist including it.

Similarly, as you write the research questions, ask what you are going to do with the answers to every question BEFORE you include it. If you’re not sure, don’t ask it. Or, re-write the question so that you learn information that is more relevant to uncovering insights that will help determine the decision or action.

Along these same lines, slight wording adjustments can have big impacts, just like a golf swing. How you ask the question can be more important than the answer. How you ask the question influences the answers.

Watch for bias and leading questions. Also, are you asking the question so that it draws out deeper richer content, or more superficial responses? Which is right for you depends on what you are seeking to learn and how nuanced is the subject matter.

In addition, be relevant to your audience. Ask questions that matter. The more you engage them on issues they care about, the richer context you are able to discover. Correspondingly, you are more likely to be able to reveal underlying motivators.

Also, view research as a way to channel the voice of the marketplace (customers, prospects and influencers) to provide critical inputs to decision-making, and not just as ‘research’.

I’ll suggest some additional specific tips in a follow-up post. In the interim, let me know some of your own tips for making research actionable. Or, share some of the challenges you have with ensuring the RESEARCH is MEANINGFUL and ACTIONABLE.

About Deborah Siegle

Deb Siegle, Past President of Women in Consulting and Principal of Strategic Marketing Solutions, is an astute marketing leader and strategist with a talent for aligning a company’s products, solutions and messages with the customer’s needs. Deb was named one of the Top Women of Influence in Silicon Valley. She delivers practical and actionable insights to business executives and entrepreneurs. Deb is a recognized consumer and business marketing leader, problem solver and communicator who is an authority in market research, strategy, market and product development, and customer loyalty and experience. Deb is also the former president of Women in Telecommunications (WiT) and has also held leadership positions in other industry associations. Deb holds a M.B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley and a B.B.A. from the University of Michigan.


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