Saving Time and Money - Optimizing Your Market Research Investment

By Dave Kreimer, Principal of Next Step Consulting

We have all heard the old adage that time is money. The current business climate demands the efficient use of all of your company’s resources to gain a competitive advantage. Next Step Consulting strives for efficiency in a variety of ways to increase the value of our clients’ research investment.

Fast response time is the most obvious factor influencing efficiency. For example, in some recent projects, the timelines have been so short that we sent the draft of the recruiting screener with the initial proposal. In one instance, when things went particularly smoothly, recruiting for the project began the same day of the initial call from the client. We have also dramatically compressed the time associated with the delivery of research documentation. Very few clients still request full reports with transcribed quotations. This type of documentation used to be the norm, but clients are no longer willing to wait approximately two weeks to see the results of their study. Instead, we typically deliver a thorough topline report approximately five days after the completion of research. When time is even tighter, some clients request a one- or two-page executive summary on the day after the research is completed. In extreme cases, Next Step Consulting facilitates a dynamic debrief immediately following the last day of research. This process typically occurs at the client’s headquarters and includes a large range of individuals with direct involvement in the further development of the product. The objectives of the dynamic debrief include reporting on the research findings and defining the indicated next steps. A report typically follows, approximately one week after the conference, but by then the client is already actively responding to the research findings.

One more time-saving innovation we use on an increasingly frequent basis optimizes the time of the individuals viewing the research. Next Step Consulting has designed a variety of research processes with overlapping, concurrent activities. Conducting research in this manner eliminates as much “downtime” as possible, such as when participants view materials or explore software. Instead, these activities occur, under supervision if necessary, prior to the interview or group discussion time. In this way, individuals viewing the research avoid sitting unproductively watching participants turn pages or work on the computer. Occasionally, the increased efficiencies of these overlapping research processes allow for additional groups per evening or, in one instance, the completion of 20 one-hour personal interviews in a 10-hour day. We have also used this idea of overlapping activities to take advantage of time zone differences with teleconferencing. A well-designed, overlapping teleconference research process can maximize the number of respondents obtained from a national sampling in a single day. Admittedly, all of the studies discussed so far had tight deadlines requiring time-compressing techniques. Additionally, the material that participants reviewed prior to the groups or interviews was carefully chosen to work well with this type of research process. In some cases, special worksheets or instructions accompanied the materials to guide the participants in their self-directed tasks. In two of the aforementioned studies, a specially trained assistant introduced the participants to the tasks and supervised their completion, ensuring an objective review.

Perhaps in the future a situation will arise requiring you to get accurate data more quickly than usual. It will be important to choose a market research provider capable of responding rapidly, as well as a documentation procedure that gets the individuals in your company into action as quickly as possible. Additionally, some of the time-compressing techniques discussed in this article may be appropriate for your study. These tips can assist you in using all your resources optimally and obtaining the best information possible in a minimal amount of time. Remember that saying, time is money? The time saved using these techniques could add up to a significant competitive advantage. And, in your industry, what could be more important?

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