Effective communication of complex information is a challenge in many professions. For example, consider the challenges faced by climate scientists: they have powerful, complex data that needs to be communicated to colleagues, policy makers and the public. Wow, and we think communicating data to our clients is hard! Indeed, some climate science professionals have put enormous effort into determining how best to communicate their unique and complex information (here’s an example of some fascinating related research).
Those of us in market research can also learn a lot by trying different approaches to communicating our complex information. Like our climate science friends can attest, it’s a topic that deserves continuous improvement. If we can do a better job of communicating, clients will be more likely to use market research to support business decision making.
But it is hard! The information we provide clients is often complex: the methods can be complex, the data can be complex, even the interpretation and synthesis can be complex. Sure, we boil it down to an executive summary that makes it more digestible. But if clients are still ignoring the research, that’s a clue that further simplification is needed.
Making Research Results Simple to Apply: Categorize and Summarize!
For market researchers, communicating complex information such that it becomes simple to apply can be difficult. We get so close to our projects that the results (and their applications) seem obvious. However, what appears clear to us as researchers, often eludes our busy, busy clients. As a result, it is imperative that we maintain a high level of self-awareness while writing reports, asking page by page, “As a client, would this slide/page be easy to understand? Is there anything else I can do to make it easier?”
How many times have you been told to ‘keep it simple?’ We’ve all heard it before, in many aspects of life. And while this is generally good advice, for market researchers, it is essential.
So how can you simplify your complex information further than you already do? Consider using two great tactics: categorizing and summarizing. Think those sound obvious? The ideas are, but how you implement them isn’t. There are lots of ways to categorize and summarize information—how many types have you tried? Is it time to try some different ways? We showed two examples in our recent YouTube broadcast, Conversations for Research Rockstars. Check out the 9-minute video here.
Wrapping Up: Steps for Preventing Your Research from Being Ignored
Thanks for reading! This completes our 3-part conversation on making sure your market research results don’t get ignored, as covered in our recent YouTube Live series. In the articles and YouTube videos, our lead instructor Kathryn Korostoff covers three specific solutions to this problem:
- Speaking the client’s language
- Using multiple data points
- Making results simple to apply
The part one YouTube video elaborates on this first point; how speaking your client’s language can ensure your research results get used. If you missed the first part of this conversation, you can view it here.
Part two focuses on how using multiple data points and sources helps build trust with your clients, and how this trust is crucial in keeping clients from ignoring your research results. If you missed it, you can catch up here.
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