If only the success of a market research project were judged by the quality of the results. But delivering a fantastic report or an inspiring final presentation isn’t enough. The missing secret ingredient: a communications plan.
If you are managing a research project for your organization, you will represent the project—and you will likely have internal clients that need to feel informed. Establishing and sticking to a communications plan from start to end will help ensure continued buy-in throughout the project and also prepare your audience for the final results. I have seen many projects stumble at project delivery because the client’s internal colleagues felt poorly informed about the project’s goals, scope or deliverables. The last thing you want is to spend weeks or months on a project, only to have it met with lackluster interest because internal colleagues had inaccurate expectations.
So, what to do? Here are two things that help keep buy-in and receptivity high:
1. Appoint deputies. If multiple departments or divisions of your organization will be using the final research results, get a deputy from each group. This person will be the face of the project to their own team. They know their colleagues best, and their colleagues will probably trust them more. The deputies will help distribute project updates (in a more personal manner than via mass emails), and prepare their teams for research results.
2. Establish and get agreement to clear project success criteria before the research starts. This goes a long way to making sure that at project conclusion, you will have a happy, engaged audience. With the agreed upon criteria in hand (or on whiteboard), remind your colleagues why they all agreed to the research and how they intended to use it. You will clearly map (hopefully!) how the final research results are aligned with those criteria.
Criteria should be kept simple, for example: “This project will be a success if at conclusion we….
- Know which of 4 potential new logo designs have the broadest appeal to our target market, or
- Identified the 4 most impactful ways to improve customer loyalty, or
- Determined which possible new product features will most likely support a price premium position
While these are just 2 parts of a communications plan, I think they illustrate that with a little planning common end-of-project problems can be avoided.
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