One of the common complaints heard among Market Research suppliers is that clients simply lock reports away in filing cabinets after presentations and fail to fully extract the value of the insights provided. While we’ve all faced this scenario numerous times, it really isn’t hard to figure out why this happens. This is a problem of our own making.
Marketers are already awash in a sea of data generated by custom research suppliers, syndicated reports, and the increasing number of online platforms. What should we expect them to do with unwieldy tomes bursting with hundreds of pages of cross-tabs and mind numbing graphics? Even if Marketers had the time (and they don’t) to leaf through such reports, the content is often presented in such a monotonous grind that even the most dedicated reader would acquiesce.
As a quantitative researcher, I don’t undervalue the utility of having data that is both high quality and plentiful. All of this information is important and should be accessible. I like cross-tabs and lots of data. But I am not the consumer, and in a world where consumers represent a rapidly moving target and attention spans are narrowing, the delivery is at least as important as the content itself. The story must be compelling, easily digested, and succinct. Simply inserting an executive summary with a few higher level deductions and recommendations isn’t sufficient.
Given the way all of us (clients especially) consume information, doesn’t it make more sense to provide a steady stream of smaller, more concise nuggets? There was a massive expenditure of time and warm air last week as marketers convened to discuss the next social media silver bullet (a topic for another post) at SxSWi. Why not use the tools available to distribute insights more effectively and efficiently? This would help to mitigate the time sink for clients and facilitate an ongoing dialogue to continually refine/sharpen the image of the client’s target.
Ultimately, it’s up to researchers to leverage the many platforms available to deliver real-time insights. We have trained clients to ignore voluminous reports. But just as consumers demand engagement, clients will be more receptive and attentive to deliverables that provide both entertainment and valuable information. While they require some investment, tools like custom desktop widgets, interactive assessment tools that allow for quick comparison against benchmark data, and proprietary wikis and blogs are just a few of the tools that have proven effective for disseminating consumer insights to clients in a clear, time efficient, and engaging manner.
Any number of new tools could be appropriate and far more effective in delivering value to report weary clients. Obviously the development of content and selection of the appropriate delivery mechanisms requires us to really understand the needs of our customers. It requires us to think about the challenges clients face and develop unique solutions that will maximize the utility of insights we deliver. In the end, we simply need to practice what we preach.