Never skimp on budget for:
- Quality sample. Having quality sample is critical. Avoid sources that can’t talk credibly about their recruitment tactics or list sources. You don’t want to bake a cake with spoiled eggs.
- Sufficient sample quantity. If you are purchasing outside sample, be sure you have access to enough—or at least have a fallback strategy in place in case your incidence rates are tragically low. I have seen many otherwise brilliantly managed projects experience dramatic schedule slips because of poor sample quantity planning.
- Expert research design. Don’t sabotage a project by fielding a poorly constructed questionnaire or applying an inappropriate methodology for the given objective. Even if you intend to do a project in-house, getting help in this area will pay for itself by avoiding wasted time and money.
- Competent data analysis. If you spend the time and money to collect beautiful data, don’t skimp on the analysis. This can be harder than it sounds, especially for projects that have had data collection problems. In these cases, you can become so exhausted with the project that by the time data analysis is due, you are just ready to be done with it. Resist the temptation or get help. Skipping on data analysis can backfire in 2 ways. First, someone else will look at the data and find an important result that you missed. Ouch. Second, you won’t get a good return on the research investment—leaving a bad impression that may derail you the next time you try to get budget for a market research study.
- Decent reporting. Rushing to get the research delivered is understandable—but unfortunate typos, mislabeled charts or poor writing can turn off the audience and damage the research’s credibility. Yes, really.
If you have people with these skills in-house—great, do it in-house. If you want to augment with outside expertise for discrete tasks, there are many boutique agencies and market research freelancers available for such work. And if you want an experienced expert to run the project for you, by all means hire a market research agency. But don’t skimp—it always backfires.
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