Getting Your Research Understood and Used

by Bill Weylock, Brand3Sixty

David Santee, former Research Director at H&R Block has some really interesting slants on a familiar precept: know your audience. And by that he means, really really know your audience.

As a preamble, David pointed to a possibly sad but certainly unavoidable fact: market research is a hard job today. Like so many other responsibility areas, research is no longer parsed into traditional discrete functions. Today’s market researchers need to be multi-function experts in gathering, analyzing, communicating, synthesizing, and recommending solutions suggested by data.

How to make any of this happen?

Part of the answer is learning how to get the attention and investment of the audience for research: the management decsion maker.

We’ve heard that… “Decisions are made emotionally and justified rationally.”

We’re used to that in designing consumer and B2B research. We know that purchase decisions are made emotionally no matter what the buyers want us to believe … David’s breakthrough thought was something like “Hey! This doesn’t apply just to consumers of our products, but consumers of our research.” Manager decisions are made emotionally as well. Managers are people too. Did he really say that?

You can get the full presentation, filled with interesting touchstones for ensuring quality research product, from the web. The most striking insights for me are that in order to get attention, research must tell a story, must have a point of view, must be presented forcefully, and must be tailored to the end user audience that needs to be influenced. Research can be tailored to the audience even in the design phase.

Make sure your research speaks to the decisions that need to be made in language and illustrations that drive the points home compellingly. Like other presenters today, David stressed the large dividends in bringing researchers closer to the meetings where priorities are set and questions are framed that will drive decisions. Getting there may be its own story.

The key point for me is that getting research understood and appreciated is our job. It is not enough to be right. You have to get read.