LEARN HOW TO START WITH A NEW RESEARCH PARTNER

When the decision to bring on a new research partner is made, it can create mixed emotions for an organization. There is a level of excitement related to the opportunities the new research partner can create for the business but there can also be a swell of anxiety over transitioning to an unfamiliar partner.  While the onboarding process for a new marketing research partner will be unique for any given company, the process can be smooth with advanced planning in a few key areas. Below are four ways an organization can prepare for a new partner. 

CLEARLY OUTLINE YOUR RESEARCH NEEDS

Create a roadmap of all your organization’s research challenges.  It should include both immediate needs as well as research needs that are often deprioritized or overlooked. Reach out to other departments to understand what needs may overlap with the scheduled research.  By providing an outline of both current and lingering research needs, your research partner may be able to suggest ways to address both areas.

Giving the new research partner this level of visibility helps them understand how they can support and partner with you to best meet your long-term research needs.

REPORT DESIGN AND TIMING OF DELIVERABLES

Provide examples or report templates, documentation, and organizational terminology in advance of the first deliverable.  By giving the new partner examples, you allow them to focus on the research effort rather than the report layout and look.  Doing so also increases the potential to shorten report turnaround time.

Explaining where the reports go and how they are used once delivered is also helpful.  Ideally, the research partner will provide a report or reports that are audience tailored.  Because the research partner is familiar with the insights, they can create versions of the results and accurately package different options for various internal audiences.

Lastly, establish a reporting timetable at the start of a project.  The timeline should include a review of the final draft to incorporate your input and thoughts into the final version.  Establishing expectations will keep both the partner and stakeholders on the same page.

PLAN A TRANSITION PERIOD

If your new research partner is replacing an existing research vendor, include time to move the work between the two research partners.  Ideally, have the two entities work together to exchange the existing data and details of the previous research.  Ensure new partners and internal research professionals are part of the onboarding process.

The transition period should be used to align on methodologies and calibrate insights so there are no discrepancies between the existing data and forthcoming research.  One approach is for both research partners old and new to analyze the same data and identify the gaps or areas needing alignment.

AGREE ON SUCCESS FACTORS AHEAD OF TIME

Create a mechanism for your partner to understand how you will assess their efforts.  A formal review process can be used to help improve and recognize the efforts being made. Areas that are important to be mindful of include the partner’s ability to communicate, follow up on questions, and how well they work with stakeholders.  If you do not formalize a way to review important intangibles, you risk not getting the most out of your investment.

Additionally, the use of a formal check-in can also create a way to receive feedback to help ensure you and your organization are also delivering on being a good partner.  When using a vendor or external partner, an organization needs to know if they are being clear, making realistic requests, and are available when the partner has questions or needs guidance.  Creating a two-way feedback loop with scheduled check-ins can make for a healthy partnership by minimizing the unknowns and potential misperceptions between the two parties.

Preparation is the key when onboarding a new research provider.  Offering a plan of approach that both you and the new research partner can use over the initial several weeks can make for a seamless and efficient onboarding.  Using some of the steps mentioned above to assess and explain the challenges, expectations, and success factors can get the partnership on the right path for a long-term relationship. 

The information in this post is based on the best practices Socratic has adopted as a marketing research partner to more than half the Fortune 100 companies. By delivering on the promise of “irreplaceable value”, Socratic has created partnerships across the globe with organizations and research professionals for over two decades.  To learn more about how Socratic can help you with new or existing marketing research, click here.