Best PracticesMarket Research

To Jump or Not to Jump? Four Simple Tasks to Complete Before Committing to A Custom Market Research Project

market research projectMaking business decisions is often a go or no-go situation. Typically, it’s not about choosing to wade up to your knees; it’s about either jumping in or staying on dry land. The same applies to any market research project: great results can be yielded by jumping in, but it takes some courage (and commitment) to jump in with the necessary time and money. To help you decide if your organization has the confidence to plunge in or not, complete the following four tasks:


1.  Assess your team. In most cases, research involves a team of at least 3 or 4 people. One person acts as the project manager (which may mean managing an outside market research agency or corralling in-house resources), 1 or 2 serve as content area experts (who may contribute to questionnaire design, etc.) and usually at least 1 or 2 intended internal clients are involved (the people who will ultimately use the data).

So here is a crucial question: considering who is on your team, do you realistically think they will dive in with you? That is, will they give this project adequate time and attention? Will they actively participate in a kick-off meeting? Think precisely about project goals? Devote needed thought to approving documents, drafts, and so on? Be available when the final results come in? Tragically, some market research projects fail because the person leading the project team received inadequate support from internal colleagues.

2.  Write down your “Now what” statements.  For example, if you are considering a project to measure potential interest in a new service, imagine it is the end of that project: what will you do with the information? If the market research results come back negative, what changes would you suggest? Will the service offering’s attributes be modified based on the market research results, or are they already selected? If you are considering a brand awareness research study, will the results notably influence marketing strategy? Be honest: if you do this market research project, how will it be used? Do you really want to spend the time and money if the research is going to be ignored anyway?

3. Confirm your budget limits.  How much of a research budget do you have? Will you have access to additional funds if needed? Do you have enough money to hire a market research agency or other outside expertise? If you do, great; if not, you may need to just dig deeper into desk research and other existing data sources.

4.  Check for existing market research. Discover what related market research already exists. Ask your internal market research department, trade associations, and perhaps even your ad agency. Also search market research aggregators (like and and trade journals. You may find that 1) the data you need already exists, and for a lot less money than doing a custom study, and 2) existing research might be available that provides important context.  For example, let’s say you are in the technology industry and you want to do some ad testing for a new software brand. Wouldn’t it be helpful to know if a market research agency recently published a study about your competitors’ market share trend?

Checklist for Market Research Project Decisions

There they are!  Four simple tasks you need to complete before committing to a custom market research project.  Remember these four steps, and you’ll be ready to dive in, without feeling like you a re jumping off of a cliff:

  1. Assess your team.
  2. Write down your “Now What?” statements.
  3. Confirm your research budget constraints.
  4. Check for existing research.


[Wondering what to do once the project’s over?  Check out this great article about Market Research “Post Mortems”]

Do you have a great team that maybe needs a little training?  Research Rockstar offers multiple training options.




Kathryn Korostoff

Kathryn Korostoff is founder and lead instructor at Research Rockstar. Over the past 25 years, she has personally directed more than 600 primary market research projects and published over 100 bylined articles in magazines. She is also a professor at Boston University, where she teaches grad students how to analyze and report quantitative data.

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