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Becoming a research partner: guide clients on their research journey


Although more and more clients are taking the market research in-house, the world isn’t falling apart for insight firms. It’s just switching to a slightly different approach from your end. Clients will need a lot of handholding from pros like you, as we’ll explain in this blog. It’s the second in a series of 5 about new opportunities for insight firms.

Opportunity 2: Clients need guidance on their research journey

Why are clients in need of guidance?

We touched upon this shortly in the previous opportunity. There’s usually no internal knowledge of market research. And as we mentioned in the intro, trends, tools and research methods keep on changing. They are even more lost than the average insight firm when looking at all those research platforms on G2.

Next comes deciding on which methods to use in which situations. That’s simply because they don’t know what they’re looking at and lack your training and experience around dos and don’ts in research projects. When is a survey useful and how many respondents does it need to have for the results to be valid for a larger group? When do you use an online focus group and how do you create one? How do you keep your insight community engaged?

They also aren’t likely to have any capabilities to do more with the data and results collected. Can they enrich their gathered data using external databases? Call on experts to perform extra analyses or combine research results with customer data hidden in a CRM or similar system? The answer is probably no.

How can we use this opportunity to our benefit?

A solid insight firm will have a deep understanding of the latest methods and techniques, and they will be able to tailor their approach to the client’s specific needs. In addition, an insight firm can provide invaluable support throughout the research project, from design to implementation to deeper analysis of research data and other owned data.

You may not have all the insight professionals employed or have access to reliable 3rd-party databases that can help to enrich the data. That’s where your platform partner comes in. The right ones offer a solid all-in-one platform. They also offer services to firms like yours to help you get the most out of your customer’s research data.

As a result, your client who invests in your market research guidance can save time and money while also getting the most out of their market research efforts.

Your opportunity in this scenario is also being a training and expertise partner.

You can offer to enrich data on a per-project or continuing basis. The latter even as part of a subscription so you can look forward to recurring revenue while the clients are safe in the knowledge their research needs are met against a steady, predictable price. This makes you their one-stop-shop partner for all their research needs which is very convenient for them too, since sharing data results with other partners who use different tools or platforms raises the error margin and may end up confusing the results if they don’t know the whole story behind the data. Context matters!

Let’s get practical

We’ll take a hypothetical example to make this more relatable. Let’s say your agency has quite a few clients operating in the clean energy space. These so happen to be VC-funded startups with ambitious goals, money to burn and results to be had yesterday.

One of these is CLEAN-E, founded 5 years ago and has an organization going through growing pains. The team structure changes often. It has a typical startup leadership team with a driven founder + co-founder and early employees, mainly generalists, who have become managers because they were there first. One of them wants to make his mark and champions taking the market research in-house so they have more control over the process.

You can offer them a training & consultancy package. Create a team that combines your experts and their new team and help CLEAN-E to implement and set up the right research platform and methods. They can also help to enrich data if necessary.

This allows you to both niche down and diversify your income streams.

Keeping up with the Joneses

Let’s take a few steps back and explore why this is important.

It’s no secret that the market is changing – it always is – but the rate at which new trends and technologies are replacing old ones doesn’t only seem to become faster. It actually is getting faster. And it shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Take the tools in the research space, for example. Insight firms can choose between an ever-expanding set of too many tools and platforms to mention in various forms and guises. Whether you’re looking for tools to help you do qualitative or quantitative research, there’s always one seemingly better suited for your particular needs.

The trouble is which one do you choose? Because they all have their pros and cons and some come with caveats that aren’t immediately clear when you purchase them.

Digging through the feature lists, comparing and validating them via reviews has become an industry in itself over the years, with the likes of G2, Capterra and Gartner dominating the space. But even then, it still is hard to pick one. And once you think you’ve found the one, up pops another where the proverbial grass is even greener.

And it’s not just about keeping up with the tools. Insight professionals themselves have to keep up with new research tactics and methods. Not to mention coping with the sheer volume of data to be processed.

Because there’s more data around than ever before and with every passing nanosecond, we’re adding even more. And the kicker is, according to Statista a whopping 37% of the world’s population isn’t even online yet as of April 2022. So there’s still a lot more data to come.

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