How to Sell Your Boss on Research
Unless your company has a department dedicated to it, market research can be a hard sell because higher level executives may not believe in the value of research. At Versta, we have a certain sympathy with these executives. In our view, market research in and of itself has little value; it is the outcomes of research—the answers to questions—that can have value.
It is important to distinguish the two because unfortunately there is plenty of research not designed to answer important questions. Research is frequently done because someone has a nagging feeling that they need more information to make better decisions or because doing research is considered a “best practice.” Such research generates lots of data that marketing managers wonder what to do with. Not surprisingly, they and their bosses start to question the value of research.
Our advice is to do market research only after formulating specific questions and information needs and only after you have a clear idea (in writing) of what you will do with the answers to those questions. We have produced a whitepaper entitled The Art of Asking Questions (you can download it by clicking on the image) that outlines a useful process to help you formulate those questions.
The key is to articulate five types of questions, including:
- The mission-critical questions
- The nice-to-know questions
- The red-herring questions
- The already-answered questions
- The look-elsewhere questions
Next, you outline at least two likely or possible answers to those questions. And finally you describe what action you might take based on each possible answer.
Articulating specific questions and outcomes will not only vastly improve the quality of your research, it will also make it easier to bring a full executive team on board with the research. Why? Because it moves internal discussions away from the value of research per se, towards the importance of the questions that have been formulated and the business value of having answers.
Versta Research would be happy to help you formulate these questions and/or help you decide that research is premature. Feel free to call us at 312-348-6089.
—Joe Hopper, Ph.D.