Written by: Sean O’Halloran of RG+A
How often do you commission marketing research with one or more of the following outcomes:
- The team disagrees about the value of the findings?
- The results do not directly address your original challenge?
- Someone, or everyone, realizes that the methodology did not answer all critical questions?
- No one understands the action points that he or she should take?
- It becomes clear that goals were not prioritized, leaving the team unable to apply the outcomes to solve the most critical problems facing your brand?
When there is an undefined or underdeveloped vision before research is designed and fielded, optimal success cannot be achieved. Final research results must produce a clear, quantifiable benefit, or the money and time spent on the research was wasted.
Applying a strategy workshop as a core part of your marketing research project will ensure shared alignment around key findings and a unified commitment around action steps across stakeholder groups. Workshops create ownership within the internal team and drive successful results that might otherwise fall short in the absence of agreement. These sessions result in the development of strategic alignment around what is pivotal, what needs to be done in the short term, and what issues need only peripheral focus at a future time.
Recently we conducted a pre-research data gap analysis workshop with 70 heterogeneous internal stakeholders. Over 4 days, the team identified a wide range of data gaps and prioritized them for multiple US and OUS markets. For each market, we identified what was critical to address now, what to do over the next 3 to 5 years and the data that was important within a 5-year period. To address short-term goals, we identified elements that could be managed internally and research for which they need outside partners/vendors.
Once we had the final results, we conducted a follow up session to identify the data gaps, apply the results practically and track each stakeholder’s role in implementation. We clarified what needed to be done based on the research findings and which groups should own each task. During the session, the stakeholders were able to create final work streams and realistic follow-up plans.
In another (post-research) workshop, we supported a client trying to increase market share for a therapeutic product that had gained a new consumer indication. The research results provided a wealth of information about customer preference, customer challenges in finding the product, packaging challenges and other consumer concerns. Yet with all of this information, the client did not have a plan to for positioning or messaging to its consumer audience.
In the workshop we successfully prioritized which of the findings had the greatest impact along with the client’s short and long-term goals. We identified the teams who would be responsible for particular results within established time lines. Every 2 weeks after that, we conducted telephone updates with each work steam leader and a 90 day check in meeting.
In each case, the client was able to see results, thanks to their alignment on priorities and commitment to execution, in a focused, timely, and efficient way. Strategy workshops create a clear path for the application of research findings and accountability for action items arising from those findings. Adding a strategy workshop before and after research is designed and fielded will ensure return on your research investment.