Research with a purpose can inform decision-making. By providing insight toward an objective, research becomes more than a series of statistical facts.
No research technique provides a perfect crystal ball into the future. But actionable research points to a clear direction for marketing outreach, customer satisfaction or messaging.
Sometimes research gets a bad reputation because it yields findings of marginal value to the task at hand. That can occur when researchers aren't plugged into the uses of their survey work. Or it can happen when researchers don't tailor their samples to reflect the audience you want to reach.
Making research useful doesn't mean writing questions or soliciting comments for a predetermined outcome. That's not really research. Unbiased, straightforward questions that test single concepts or messages may produce findings you don't like, but need to know. What value is there to undertake a major marketing campaign based on an untested or untrue premise?
The best way to assure research is actionable is to integrate it into the overall strategic process of building a campaign or creating a product. That's a primary reason why CFM invited Tom Eiland, our research partner, to bring his practice into ours. Eiland gets involved on the ground floor of client projects, which gives him a keener idea of what information we need to know to meet client objectives.
Another spinoff benefit from having an in-house, full-service research practice is wider awareness of the value of research by all staff members.
"Everyone knows more about research and different research techniques," explains Eiland. "That helps them integrate research principles into their everyday client work."
Whether clients spend millions of dollars or hundreds on marketing, they should invest their resources based on solid research, not seat-of-the-pants hunches. The best of all investments is in research solidly integrated with the overall project and strategy.
"When we know where a client wants to go," Eiland says, "we can ask the right questions of the right people to find the right path."