By Sandra Bauman
I often think of this Blaise Pascal quote when considering the challenges of developing market research deliverables. It so perfectly encapsulates something we wrestle with often and we’re constantly striving to improve upon. It’s a constant struggle to balance our natural temptation to report all the myriad detailed data with the research consumer’s need for nutshelled analysis and specific action steps. Too often, especially in qualitative circles, analysis and reporting are glossed over. In fact, many qualies outsource this critical piece of the research project. As Pascal’s quote infers, it takes time and a specific skillset to develop analysis AND recommend action.
On the other hand, too often the industry encourages taking too high-level an approach. It’s a fine line to give a client the sense that they got what they paid for in terms of quantity of expectations without burying them, thus quality suffers. I love this blog post from Annie Pettit:
“Data is not the issue. Data presentation is the issue. We need to learn how to choose the data points that best demonstrate the point we wish to make. And, we need to learn how to choose the chart that best presents that point…Easy and quick is not best. It’s lazy.”
In fact, we’ve put significant thought and effort into developing a signature approach to our research findings. Consider this: we’re frequently sharing our findings with different types of research consumers with varying degrees of research “comfort level” (from the Board to the business unit sponsor to the agency representative to the in-house research department). Sometimes we have the “luxury” of customizing different presentations to these different audiences, but often we don’t. Beyond that, some of those research consumers are more visual and some are more textual. Our deliverables need to accommodate both.
Another consideration is that our research must live beyond that one engagement. The report we leave behind needs to be able to stand on its own, long after we’ve completed our work and are no longer there to offer translation–a very different objective than the presentation of findings described above. This is an ongoing work in progress for us.
We’re constantly looking to design thinking and visualization techniques to further our efforts. What strategies have you found that help you in your own quest to develop your short letter?