There’s an old adage that goes something li ke this: “You can get it fast, cheap and good.” Then the speaker adds, “But in reality you can only get two of the three.” Wait! We want it all! Competition in the marketplace has become so unyielding that companies and market researchers are being pressed to provide highly reliable and actionable data in near real-time. The minute the client company has its product or service sufficiently finalized for testing they are almost past the deadline established weeks or months ago to have the final reporting analyzed and delivered.
FAST: The demand for quick implementation may result in poorly thought-out elements critical to the success of the study. Insufficient screeners, questionnaires, and methodologies may suffer due to haste. This frequently ends with a “ready, fire, aim” result meaning the study and the company’s product or service will miss its intended target. These errors cause a loss of time, wasted expenses and potential loss of revenue because of lost market share as the result of hurried implementation.
CHEAP: As corporate marketing budgets are squeezed smaller and smaller with the impact trickling down to market research funding, the marketing department as well as the researchers, services and facility providers are finding it more difficult to achieve the desired level of valid data results. All are committed to providing exceptional results but are hampered by increasingly limited budgets. This is a quandary for all of us in the research sector. I have recently been in discussions with associates and clients hearing the commoditization of market research. The question begged: Why spend enormous amounts of money mounting a world-class thoroughbred racehorse to end up hobbling it with poor training?
GOOD: This word is a misnomer. Clients don’t really want good. They want extraordinary; and rightfully so. Companies expend enormous amounts on R&D for new products and services. They want, no they demand an extraordinary ROI on their investment. Let’s keep in mind in most cases there are investors at the top of this food chain who expect stellar returns on their investments. When is the last time you had a conversation with a client who said, “We’re really excited about this new widget, but we only expect it to do so-so in the market.” or keeping with the equestrian metaphor, “We’ve got a great horse. Let’s shoot it.”
THE DILEMMA: The question resulting from juggling Fast, Cheap and Good is how do we, as market researchers work around the challenge of meeting all three of these criteria? How do we satisfy clients’ timing, budgets, expectations, needs and requirements? Is it possible to do so? The suggested answer is not easy, but in my opinion it is the only legitimate way.
THE SOLUTION: Honesty. Simply stated, we must be honest with all of our clients and prospects. We must be straight with them from the beginning; from the initial RFP. Anything less is setting everyone up for missing the mark and likely failing. Unfortunately, we sometimes find ourselves being swayed by the desire to get the project, engage a new client, work on something really interesting or financially rewarding. It’s at this point where integrity must lead us forward.
Step 1: Discuss all three elements open and honestly with the client. Explain why Fast, Cheap and Good when combined most likely will not result in the best results for them.
Step 2: Feel free to use the adage most business people are familiar with, adding “you can only get two.” This opens the door to breaking them down individually and how they can impact the overall study.
Step 3: Discuss and negotiate the optimum needs and desires of the client. Keep in mind and be willing to share the fact there are almost always needs and wants and sometimes the two do not play well together.
Step 4: Come to an agreement that will work well for the client’s ultimate goals knowing you have provided the best professional counsel you can and provided them with the opportunity to optimize their market research study.
That’s the way we do business at INGATHER Research & Sensory©.
By Bob Chapin