15 Questions to Answer Before Starting Marketing Research (Part One)

By Michelle Auda, Project Manager, Polaris Marketing Research

Are you interested in doing some marketing research? Before contacting a marketing research company, you will want to prepare by first gathering some key pieces of information. Most marketing research firms will need the answers to these basic questions before they can make recommendations and properly price your project.

Here are the first 7 of the 15 questions you should know the answers to before you call Polaris (or any marketing research company). We will cover 7 this month and 8 in next month�s MR Perspectives.

Research Objectives

What are the goals of the research?

  • Having a firm grasp on the research objectives is probably the single most important element of a marketing research project. The project objectives will drive the entire project and determine whether you have actionable results after spending precious time and money on the research.

  • If you aren�t exactly clear on your research objectives, no need to worry. Initial meetings with the research firm and key team members will help clarify specific research goal.


What action are you prepared to take in response to the research results?

  • Surprisingly, companies often do research and don�t do anything with the results. Appointing a key person or team responsible for implementing key findings into daily processes will ensure your investment of time and money was well spent.


Do you have a board meeting or special event for which you must have the research results?

  • If so, start the process of contacting firms at least three to four months in advance. This will allow enough time for key tasks: initial meetings, getting the questionnaire just right, allowing enough time in the field, and final report preparation.

  • If you don�t have three to four months to complete the research in time, be sure to tell the research firm as that will impact both the recommended methodology and pricing.


Do you have a ballpark budget for the research?

  • Having an idea of your budget early in the process will help you obtain a research plan that gets the most out of your research dollars.


Do you have an idea of survey length?

  • Survey length will have a direct impact on cost. Questionnaire length can be affected by many factors, including complexity of questions, number of open-ended questions, and number of follow-up probing questions.


Who do you want to survey?

  • Who is the qualified respondent for the survey? Do you know what the incidence of this person is in the general population?

Do you have the list of qualified respondents/customers/prospects you want to survey?

  • If so, how �clean� is the list? In other words, if you would like to do a telephone survey, does the majority of your sample records have current/valid telephone numbers and contact names?

  • If you are interested in including cell phone numbers, keep in mind that dialing cell phones may cost extra as cell phone numbers often have to be dialed manually.

  • Likewise, if you would like to do an online survey, does your list contain current/valid email addresses? Are the emails all opted-in, that is, do you have permission to use this list for marketing research?

  • If you would like the data analyzed by any internal attributes (size of firm, customer, type, etc.), you will also want to be sure these fields are updated and available in the sample file.

Watch for next month�s MR Perspectives to get the final 8 questions!

Michelle Auda is a project manager for Polaris Marketing Research. In addition to managing projects and client relationships, she is also responsible for overseeing a team of data specialists for several important customer satisfaction ad hoc and tracking research studies.

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