Do you remember the last time you moved? It was probably one big, giant, pain in the you-know-what. I bet you even have a few boxes in the attic or basement that you haven’t unpacked yet. You’ve completely forgotten about that pretty serving tray that Aunt Sylvia gave you for your wedding.
That’s fine. At a certain point, it’s just easier to just buy new a new serving tray than to move the boxes of holiday decorations, the tubs full of clothes the kids have outgrown, and the box with your significant other’s yearbooks to get to the box that you think possibly, maybe has Aunt Sylvia’s tray in it.
Don’t let good parts of your research become a pretty serving tray that lives in a box in your basement.
Maybe you’ve jumped on the SurveyMonkey or Qualtrics band wagon because those tools are so efficient for fielding your own survey when you need an answer really quickly. In a week or even just days, you can write your questionnaire, program your survey, get your responses, get the answer to your question, and make your business decision.
But have you maximized all the data you’ve collected through SurveyMonkey or Qualtrics? Have you made the answers to the questions you asked available to be used for other purposes?
Chances are that you asked a few warm up questions in your survey—maybe familiarity with your brand and some competitors, maybe usage of your category, maybe buying habits and a few attitudinal questions.
All of the data from those questions can be great foundational information for use down the road. You may be able track brand awareness and some usage habits over time. Those same brand awareness and usage habits can help you formulate the best research design and questionnaire for your next project. You’ve hired someone new to the team, and these facts can give them a good grounding and picture of your business.
But can you easily find the results of those questions from all the surveys you’ve fielded? How long will it take you track that information down so you can use it to prepare your deck for your next sales meeting? Can you even remember the question topics you asked about that weren’t related to the main topic of the surveys?
Particularly when you’ve fielded a survey to get an answer to a tactical question, you may remember only those specific questions in your survey. For instance, you tested some new packaging ideas. You found the one that your consumers liked best in just a few days. When it comes time to work on next year’s strategic plan, this survey may not even come to mind. But, there may be the equivalent of forgotten serving trays in that packaging survey—those upfront brand awareness and usage habits questions.
And if you’re fortunate enough to have numerous primary research studies at your company, then there are many more opportunities to maximize the data you’ve collected. Especially if you have a segmentation, an attitude and usage study, or a piece of need state primary research, then you have loads of information you can use again and again. The trick may be organizing the data you’ve collected already so that it’s easy to find.
In these days of doing more with less, a little bit of advance planning can mean maximizing all of the data you’ve collected, whether by yourself or with the help of a research or consulting firm. Because there’s never enough money to go field new research every time you want to, taking inventory of the primary research you do have a couple of times a year is a very good idea. If you’re really busy, a good consultant can help you organize your research, classify it, and tag it with keywords that mean something to you and your organization. (And this might require a few more steps than just loading it to your Sharepoint site.)
And don’t forget the trade publications and trend reports you’ve bought. These might not live in your research library, but they often have a treasure trove of important knowledge related to your business. A good consultant can help organize the relevant tidbits from these secondary sources too.
This is something we specialize in at Storypoint Inc. We’d love to help you get everything you can out of the information you’ve spent time and money collecting. We want to help you unpack.
Photo by Skrewtape on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/skrewtape/851672959/