Building an Efficient Research Program

In today’s “Big Data” world, it’s easy to get lost in the cacophony of numbers and statistics. Companies look for an all-encompassing dashboard to divine brand health, but with advances in data visualization and an ocean of accessible data, the options can be overwhelming.

Here are five tips to keep in mind when diving into brand research:

1. Begin at the end

Insights should lead to business decisions. It is important to understand how this part of the process fits into the bigger branding picture. By articulating the decisions the data need to inform, you can determine what research you’ll need. Perhaps someone else has already built a study that works for you. Maybe there are publicly available sources that will shape your research. Did you know the federal government is a virtual warehouse of statistics and data? There are also prepackaged reports that assess entire industries and consumer segments – by working with these you can outline what’s missing and develop your research plan.

2. Be focused

When it comes to audiences and topics, don't ask all the “want to knows,” keep it to the “must knows.” It’s tempting to toss in a few non-essential questions when conducting a survey but don’t fall into this trap. Every question should have a distinct purpose and should be track back to inform the business decisions to be made. It may be nice to know the income bracket of the audience but unless that will be used specifically, spare the respondent and analyst.

3. Start small

Once you've done all the work to locate your audience, it is important to be sure you ask the right questions. Getting feedback on a small scale before launching a larger audience survey can be incredibly helpful. This can be as simple as asking a friend or colleague who fits the audience profile a few of your questions as a sanity check on your approach. This easy step can help ensure that you are on the right track with your research and make the most of your budget and time.

4. Take advantage of technology

We live in a data drenched universe – there are lots of different ways to gather information.

Technology has made research less expensive and more accessible. For example, alternatives to the traditional focus groups – chats and bulletin board responses – make qualitative research a convenient way of gathering insights.

5. Keep it simple

Innovations in research platforms provide the researcher with options to conduct highly complex studies and develop questionnaires specific to the most exact criteria. While these studies can provide a layer of sophistication, sometimes a simple rating scale can do the job. Always think back to your objectives and start with the least amount of information needed. Add complexity only as the project requires it. This will ultimately keep costs down and make life simpler for everyone.

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