Briefing a marketing researcher – Do’s and Don’ts

What must a marketer do to ensure that the market research he/she commissions will produce useful results?  In answer to this question, the following list of some do’s and don’t’s was compiled.  It assumes that the survey is to be carried out by a Marketing Research company, although most of the comments are true for whoever carries out a survey:

  • Give a written brief – don’t give an off-the-cuff presentation of the problems and the objectives to be met by the market research.
  • State whether the market research is needed to solve a particular problem or is it needed to only monitor company performance.
  • Provide full information on what is required and why the information is required.  Don’t hold back information because you feel you are paying the market researcher and it’s his job to find out.


Information to be provided to the market researcher should be:

  • background history of the company
  • description of the type of business it is in
  • technical details of the product and service –brochures will sometimes provide these.
  • name the competitors as well as their strengths and weaknesses
  • mention your own company’s strengths and weaknesses
  • explain the type of sales force and distribution channels it is using
  • spell out your decision objectives
  • describe, in as much detail as possible, the problems you are experiencing
  • point out any pitfalls that the researcher may run into that could affect his accuracy

When a researcher works for you, he becomes a member of your team and you must trust him and assist where possible. Don’t try and get as much money’s worth as possible by loading the survey with more objectives because it’s going to cost you anyway.

Obtain a written proposal from the market research company.  If you wish – go out and get more quotes but remember a market research house will be more loyal to you if you deal with it for all your market research requirements.  It will spend more time with you and go out of its way if it feels part of your team

You can only compare quotes if you have given the same brief to each market research company and if they are quoting on the same method of sampling, sample size, method of analysis, etc.  Different sampling methods, size and analysis can produce widely differing quotes.

Discuss your decision objectives with the researcher so that he can convert these into his research objectives. Ensure that what the market research will provide the type of information you need, i.e. don’t measure your advertising awareness when, in fact, you want to measure whether advertising is affecting sales.

Ask who will be in hands-on-control of the market research project.  Hold periodic meetings with the market researcher and insist on contract reports.  If the market researcher needs more time, give it to him.  You can never ensure quality if you insist on deadlines.

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