3 Key Questions to Ask When Choosing a Market Research Firm
The construction, home improvement and lawn & garden industries are evolving. No longer can established companies rely on their gut if they wish to grow. Nor can you get all the answers you need from a report you purchased online.
Today, it’s critical to not only continue using internal information and secondary data sources but also to align with a market research firm that helps you fill in the information gaps you need to make growth-based decisions.
Selecting a partner to conduct research on your behalf can be a challenge. Most often, you are making a significant investment upfront on a firm’s promise to deliver what they say they can. Luckily, there are ways to figure out which firms will be best for you.
Research doesn’t have to be expensive. If cost is a primary driver for you, check locally for a startup or a small research firm. Don't overlook your local AMA (American Marketing Association) or a quick internet search for market research firms in your city. You may not end up working with a well-known firm, but you will likely be met with optimism, excitement and a low cost. Be prepared to spend more time getting these types of suppliers up to speed on your industry, product and brand.
If cost is less of a concern and you want quality insights from a company with a proven track record, consider reaching out to an established research firm focused on your industry. It’s ideal to partner with a market research firm that specializes in your area, since general firms may not know which segments of consumers to research, how larger industry trends impact your business or how to get in touch with difficult-to-reach professional end-users.
The more industry research expertise they have, the less time you’ll spend training them and they more they will bring to the table to get better results.
What You Should Be Asking
Once you’ve determined the type of company that’s within your budget, there are three key questions you should ask when choosing a market research firm:
1. Is this firm going to give you actionable insights?
It’s not enough to just provide the data: A great market research firm will deliver actionable insights. When speaking with prospective firms, ask how their research will help you make a decision.
Additionally, examine how they phrase objectives in the proposal. Go with a firm that words their objectives in terms of decision-making. Is their objective simply to perform a brand awareness study for you, or is it to understand brand awareness to identify the customer market with the greatest opportunity so you can redirect your marketing spend?
2. Do they excel at collecting and analyzing data?
Since you’ll make important decisions based on the research, you want a firm that knows how to collect high-quality, reliable data. A good way to assess a firm’s expertise is to ask which data collection and analysis methodologies best suit your objectives.
Any firm that’s worth your investment will be able to explain why in-depth interviews may be better for your needs than a survey or how a TURF analysis will help you decide which features to include in a product.
3. Do they have a history of success with companies like yours?
Find a firm that can provide references from clients with objectives like yours, then contact the references and ask them how they used the research. A good firm should be able to connect you with satisfied clients who used their research to inform decisions.
A Final Word
There are several other factors that should be considered such as respondent quality controls, responsiveness and resources. However, comparing market research firms with these three primary questions in mind will help you make a solid research investment.
If you’d like to learn more about how to meet your market research needs and gain actionable insights for your business, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.