Applying Market Research To Your Business Strategy
Published on Jan 24, 2024 by Alec Kotopoulos
Ensure Your Next Market Research Project Connects With Your Goals
How often have you experienced that shallow feeling whereby a well-crafted, important research project is completed but the key results and business implications fail to gain serious consideration? Sure, the study was well designed, carefully monitored, expertly analyzed, and packaged nicely in an easy-to-understand report. Yet, you hear nothing, zip, zero about how the results were adopted or even considered in a strategic way.
Upon investigation, you discover that the study results went nowhere, unused, and are currently collecting dust in the cloud leaving you wondering what went wrong? The results, although factual, well-honed, and honest, were not adopted. Was it due to internal politics? Did a strategic consideration fail to be to be included in the survey or the analysis thus rendering all subpar and unimplementable? These are just the start of questions that can plague any researcher or a sponsor of research in any organization.
What I just described occurs all too often across companies. And yes, I made the same mistake early in my career by rushing to conduct a study without taking a step back and thinking hard about the business context. The pressure to get answers and help solve problems is real. Stakeholders and research sponsors want answers and quickly! So, the reaction is to make speed/turnaround a priority instead of taking a step back and thinking. Here is one way to ensure the research that is done aligns properly with the strategy and will be used once completed.
Look Cross-Functionally For The Antidote:
Framing research to reflect the competitive environment, market dynamics and the strengths/weaknesses of a firm is the place to start which is done by moving across the organization for support and contributions to the study. Add to that the context of plausible, relatively implementable actions that your company can affect, and you are on your way to delivering results that will move needles on the dashboard.
To accomplish this:
Confirm The Strategy: Source internal documents that outline the firm’s business strategy. Understand the financial, operations, marketing, sales, service, and other key aspects of how the business works and most importantly, makes a profit.
Properly Scope the Research: Schedule a meeting with a “2 or 3 down” in the Strategy department. Identify the key challenges they see to business growth and ask them to identify a few questions that when posed to customers/prospects will most help inform the latter. It is wise to confirm that previous research has not delved into the topic where you might be duplicating efforts from a previous team, year, project. If so, that data will be a great springboard for the new project.
Gain Buy-In to The Insights: Move on to the equivalent executive in the Finance and Operations group(s) and frame a similar set of questions within the context of both disciplines. Both departments will have a keen interest and if they know the impacts, they will be ready for changes instead of vetoing the strategic updates.
Align External Efforts: Meet with a key Marketing executive to gain insight as to how the brand differentiates itself, how the company drives interest and what elements of the customer value proposition really matter. How it is said or what words are used in a survey can be critical in connecting with the participants. Marketing can bring forward what they have messaged or how it being positioned which helps improve the survey design.
Build A Fanbase for The Research: Have coffee with a sales Manager and have them sell you on the firm, its products/services. Ask how they overcome key objections and turn qualified leads into customers and the same cohort into highly loyal ones. Additionally, tell them what you are setting out to achieve and what the research is out to solve. Sales, in most organizations, are the best advocates and fans of better insights as it will help them sell more. So, they can help elevate the importance of the research.
Once you have this valuable information, frame each research project within a well-informed strategic business context. Doing so will decrease the probability of delivering “nice to know” results and your clients will see you as a key business partner. Once that occurs you are well on the road to solidifying your success and theirs. Most importantly, the business will benefit by more precise impact over and over again.
Alec Kotopoulos is the VP of Business Development at Socratic Technologies. With over 25 years of experience within Fortune 100 firms where he led market research and data analytics groups, Alec has supported strategic decision-making and research efforts for leading Financial Services, Retail/CPG and Biopharmaceutical companies worldwide. At Socratic, Alec, together with our expert research team, works closely with an array of clients to help ensure the delivery of business centric, needle moving research.