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Thinking about a market research project? Here's how to brief an agency.

Slow is smooth, smooth is fast - or so the saying goes. Taking the time to brief a market research supplier properly will save you time and money, no matter how close to a deadline you are. It will make sure your research is feasible and achieves its objectives. Decent suppliers will have their own template that they give to their clients. However, if you're relatively new to research, and you need support for more than just research tools and recruitment, you might want to consider using our comprehensive research briefing template! 

Firstly, this blog isn't about 'how' to write a great research brief, you can find that gem here

In our recent blog, 5 ways to streamline your recruitment process we mentioned the importance of a thorough briefing process. This blog will carry on in that theme and focus on 'why' it’s important to provide your agency partner with a comprehensive briefing when requesting a proposal for a full-service project and the essential elements that briefing should always include.  More often than not, research proposals and associated costs are required within tight timeframes. However, rushing the proposal aspect will just lead to poor outcomes. It's important to spend time at the beginning to ensure that all aspects of the potential project complement each other and, most importantly, that the approach is feasible. 

Here are four key areas to consider when requesting proposals and costs from your research partners and suppliers:

  1. Background: Firstly, it’s important to note that the most successful briefings will always take place verbally – email exchanges have their merits, but with conversation comes creativity, exchange of ideas and sometimes, a reality check. A conversation provides an opportunity to explain in detail what the background of the research is and what’s led to it, but it’s also a great chance to have an open discussion about any previous research, findings or hypothesis which may be integral. Overall, the background provides a foundation for designing successful research which will meet both your business and research objectives.
  1. Budget: Before research can be designed and costs collated, budgets need to be discussed. A good research partner will know intrinsically what is within scope and what isn’t, but just because your budget may be small, it doesn’t necessary mean that you can’t achieve your ideal research design. Telling your chosen partner what the potential budget is upfront when requesting proposals and costs, will provide the opportunity to discuss what may be possible and what small tweaks may need to be considered in order to keep within budget. Similarly, if your budget is sizeable, you may be able to achieve more than you originally thought, and your research partner is best placed to advise you of the possibilities.
  1. Research design: Now that you have provided the research background and informed your partner of the budget, it’s time to design your sample and methodology. An important part of research design, alongside an understanding of the target audience for the sample, is understanding timings. If you only have a short window of time to complete the research, an online only approach may be best, whereas if you have a longer timeframe, you could mix face-to-face qualitative research with digital tools and quantitative methodologies. Other factors which contribute to research design include; number of people, number of and which markets, type of research needed, etc. All of these elements will impact the cost of the research, so it’s really important to have an open and honest conversation at proposal stage.
  1. Deliverables: Some research calls for a standard presentation report, but other projects may benefit from short films, persona development or a magazine. If you’re open to different kinds of outputs, and have the budget, make sure to ask partners to include their suggestions in their proposals and costs.

The key takeaway is that open conversation is best and spending that extra half an hour when you are requesting proposals may save you a lot of time should the project be commissioned. There are lots of other benefits to employing this method. It gives the client a chance to think hard on what they want to achieve, it breaks the ice and gives both party's a chance to explore creatively.

Research_Brief_TemplateIf you need a comprehensive briefing template...

Here's our Research Brief Template that we ask our clients to complete as part of our on boarding process. You'd be more than welcome to borrow and adapt this to use for your own purposes.

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