3 Pieces of Market Research Advice from the Client Side

After spending over 10 years working primarily on the supplier side of the client/supplier relationship it is a very different view I am experiencing now. Especially as it pertains to working with market research firms, I have three Observations that I feel the need to share and offer as advice to my supplier side friends.

1) Ask questions when you get an RFP, even if you know the business.
The fact is that RFPs while well intentioned, can not possibly explain the entire situation that has led to a market research project. Amd even more importantly, they are not always as fully thought out as suppliers might assume. By asking a few questions before you write a proposal you are investing in you chance to win, building rapport, making it possible to have creative ideas, and confirming your assumptions. All important pieces to winning and successfully executing a project.

2) Don't show mostly numbers in a qualitative presentation.
Honestly, I can't believe this even needs to be in here but giving percentages with small sample sizes of largely qualitative data (or even more importantly sub sets of that sample) is extremely dangerous. First of all it presents directional data as representative. Second, it distorts the value of the qualitative findings. And third, to those in the know it makes you seem like you don't understand market research. Suppliers need to understand that slides and charts get passed around out of context and people latch on to the numbers. In short, protect internal clients from themselves and their colleagues by making sure what people think they are reading is actually what is being shown.

3) If you have to explain how to read a chart, don't use it.
Building on the last point, suppliers need to present slides that can stand alone I need be and anything requiring instruction is dangerous and begging for misinterpretation. If a point I'd worth making, it's worth making simply.

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