I would have to say one of our choice assignments here in the Bunker is report writing for our market research clients. Although each report we write is unique for each of our clients, a few common foundations exist in every report that is produced at RMS. Here are 5 things you should consider when writing your next market research report, who knows, maybe you already do…
1) Executive Summary and/or Dashboard – “Too Much is Too Much” – although market researchers may love reading through 100 page reports, most people don’t. This includes people in the audience that the report is addressed to. In today’s business world of quick and efficient (think 140 characters like Twitter), including an executive summary or dashboard of the key findings up front is integral to report. If you can fit all key statistics on a one-page dashboard to refer back to time and again, that’s even better.
2) Recommendations – “Don’t Leave Them Hanging on Just Data”– as a market research firm, the key is not always how to design and collect data, but it’s how you interpret it. Put yourself in the mind frame of your client and ask questions they would ask about the results. What types of things do they need answered? What is the ‘so what?’ Taking the next step to consult with your client and offer them your market research and industry expertise is a keystone to any good market research firm.
3) Significance Testing – “Is That Number a Big Deal?” – so, one segment of your market has a higher likelihood to use your client’s product than another. Is that a big deal? Use significance testing to find out if the difference in percentage is unlikely to have occurred by chance. RMS uses statistical testing in all of our heavy quantitative reports to provide insight into whether the difference between two segments is just a fluke or if it actually means something.
4) Cross-tabulations – “Banner Runs Have Staying Power” – all those pesky little demographic questions at the end of the survey are of use and should be used by the market research agency. Differences between genders, age groups, income levels, households – all have separate implications for your client. Pick out some key demographic breaks or other breaks within the survey script itself and run cross-tabs on all questions from the survey. You may be surprised with what is found and you may even come across a finding you hadn’t thought about.
5) Readability – “Tell a Good Story” – in addition to making the report read well in terms of ease of understanding and simplicity, don’t lose track of the story you are telling. Again, put yourself in the mindset of your client, you need to summarize your market research study from start to finish giving them the complete picture of the results. What are the key takeaways from your market research? Start from there and begin to mold the flow of your report. I’m not saying you need to spend the time turning your next monthly trend report into a John Grisham novel, but in the end, your report should offer some closure to the reader.
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