NUMBER ONE: Effective marketing research uses the principles of the scientific method — observation, hypothesis, prediction, and testing. Since the goal of conducting a marketing research project is to uncover useful information, how you conduct your research is vitally important. Good research follows this standard process.
NUMBER TWO: Good marketing research develops innovative ways to solve a problem. This requires some level of creativity in your research. Other than traditional methods such as surveys and polls, in what various ways can the problem be evaluated? Are you even studying the right problem?
NUMBER THREE: Reliable marketing research uses multiple methods to acquire data and shy away from over-reliance on any one method. In your research, always make sure you adopt the research to the problem. In other words, don't say you want to do a survey and then figure out a problem to solve. Also, don’t be fooled into thinking that one method is better than others. Good research recognizes the value of using multiple methods and sources to achieve reliable information.
NUMBER FOUR: Savvy marketing researchers recognize the interdependence of research models and the data collected. The research model you choose will ultimately determine the type of information, its validity, and your ability to act based on findings. Therefore, always base your research efforts on solid models that are clearly defined and as explicit as possible.
NUMBER FIVE: Smart marketers understand the relationship between the value of information and its cost. There are always lots of questions to be asked and problems to be solved. However, to steward resources effectively, marketers need to consider the cost of market research, the value of the information gathered, and the likelihood of management’s ability or willingness to act on such information.
NUMBER SIX: Good marketing researchers show little reliance upon glib or stereotyped assumptions made by managers about how a market works. Often times, those in the midst of a market are unable to clearly see the market. The “forest through the trees” scenario applies here.
NUMBER SEVEN: Responsible marketing research is a win-win-win situation. It shows a healthy respect for the company, the product and the customers and never tries to harm or take advantage of customers.
So, there you have it. Seven ways to ensure your research is going to be useful and action-oriented when you're finished. And, hopefully, this wasn't too long of a post! :-)
-- David Kinard, PCM