A market research proposal is something that Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS)  deals with on a daily basis.  Market research proposals are either created in response to a specific RFP process or requested directly from a prospective client.  Because many of our clients we work with in the healthcare, higher education, and the financial industries are long-standing retainer customers, we often have a chance to review other market research firms’ proposals.  This provides us the benefit of comparing our in-house proposals to our competitors and encourages our team to continually evolve our process to strive for best in class.

In honor of the Easter holiday, this blog posts focuses on seven little nuggets that are addressed or failed to be addressed in market research proposals.  If your business decides to sign-off on the market research work with a vendor, a few of these Easter eggs can have a major impact on your study.  Some of these other Easter eggs may be minor but if you can’t find them addressed in the market research proposal, we encourage you to ask your vendor about them, as they might offer your business a little additional value to the process.  Regardless, here are seven things to look for when you are reviewing your next market research proposal:

Egg 1: Sample Purchase – if your market research proposal involves any type of survey (particularly telephone) or qualitative research (in-depth interviews or focus groups), there will most likely be a sample order.  A sample order is a purchase of telephone numbers or emails that are used to recruit for and/or complete the research.  If it’s a customer study, you might have your own in-house database that can be used thus there wouldn’t be a charge, but if there is a non-customer component, keep an eye out.  Market research vendors will either embed this in the total cost or charge an additional business expense for purchasing the sample (which could add another $300+ dollars to your cost).

Egg 2: Mix of Respondents – this is in regards to the make-up or mix of your recruits or survey respondents.  Make sure the vendor explains somewhere in the proposal that the respondents to the study will closely mimic the demographics of your customers, or any other parameter you set forth.  Having some type of caveat like this ensures that the vendor will do everything to meet your fieldwork expectations.  We’ve seen examples with past clients and other vendors where all phone calls were placed during the daytime (9 AM to 5 PM)  for a B2C survey, which resulted in a disproportionate number of elderly respondents (retired) and unemployed respondents.  Concessions need to be made by your market research vendor to do what is convenient for your respondents, and not the market research firm.  Just keep an eye out for Egg 2.

Market Research Proposal

Egg 3: Honorarium Cost – this is pretty cut and dry.  In most cases, this will apply to a qualitative market research project where participants are paid for their time.  This could either mean a 20-minute phone conversation over the phone (IDI) or a two-hour group session at your focus group facility in Upstate NY.  If the market research vendor is recommending the participants get paid, just make sure you understand where the cost is applied.  Many market research vendors will add these as an additional business expense because the number of people participating could vary so the vendor doesn’t want to charge for people not showing up.  However, some vendors will embed this in the total cost of the work and you’ll be paying $2,500 total  in honoraria for 25 participants even though only 17 showed up to your focus groups.  A cleverly hidden egg, this one is.

Egg 4: The Final Presentation – this points to the final step of the market research project – the wrap-up, the readout or the presentation.  Just make sure the market research proposal clearly dictates which option is embedded in the cost of the work. Most market research vendors will budget for some level of final readout after the report is written and finalized but, as stated above, this could come in many forms.  So if your vendor is across the country and you were expecting them to meet with you and deliver a presentation at your board meeting, make that clear up front.  If the in-person presentation is mentioned, make sure the vendor books those plane tickets rather than dialing a phone.

Egg 5: Estimated Timeline – this one will be quick, I sense your interest in this post is waning.  It’s fairly common practice to layout a timeline or workplan in a market research proposal, which details how long it will take to complete each step and how long it will take to complete the study as a whole.  Surprisingly enough, we’ve eyed some other proposals from market research vendors that failed to state an estimated timeline for completion.  Just make sure this is referenced and documented somewhere in your market research proposal or you might be getting that final report sometime in 2024.

Egg 6: Access to Recordings or Monitoring Calls – although many market research vendors won’t offer this up and include it in the proposal itself, it never hurts to ask.  As part of quality control procedures, most market research firms continually record and monitor calls to ensure accuracy.  So, feel free to ask your market research vendor to pass you a few over email to listen or ask them if they can conference you in to some live calls during the fieldwork.  Good market research vendors are transparent and have confidence that their process is fail-safe.

Egg 7: The Lost Data File – you have just wrapped up your 3,000-complete telephone survey $80,000 project.  The market research vendor passed you the final report with all of the last changes, edits, etc. incorporated.  The vendor did a fantastic job summarizing the results, analyzing the statistics, and delivered a thorough presentation to your management team.  You couldn’t ask for anything else because the market research vendor covered everything.  Right?  The seventh and final Easter egg is the data file from the project.  Too often clients forget to ask for this CSV file, which contains a case-by-case breakdown of each respondent’s answers to the survey.  If you have time to read through the 3,000+ open-ends, you could uncover some additional anecdotal information, which wasn’t touched upon or didn’t pop in the report.  Just make sure the market research proposal states that you’ll get this at the end of the study; it’s worth it.

Next time you are reading through your market research proposal, keep an eye out for these seven Easter eggs.  Are you a business interested in requesting a market research proposal?  Contact our Business Development Director, Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 315-635-9802.