Writing about micro-business data trends, social media metrics and data use in business decisions.

Research Is Not “One Size Fits All” - Friday Folly

Part of my brand-spanking-new Friday Folly about life as a researcher in the business world. Warning - these might ramble on a bit. I’ll try my best to keep them short but things might get a little crazy.

Researchers often fuss (or sweat) over the details. Like sampling errors, significance and scales. I’ve done it plenty of times over plenty of different projects.

I think part of why it happens is because we want our research to be really, really good. We also see it tied to our professional value or the value we offer to business. And we also do it because it’s drummed into us from the early days of research training and discussions. 

After a few years of research as a young-whipper-snapper, I realized that not every one cares about these pesky little research details. A business manager doesn’t always want to know about the sampling error. A CEO doesn’t want the technical details about weighting … or scales … or screener questions. 

Some might. A lot don’t. 

As I redesigned our research portal earlier this week and started migration from the old to the new, I was thinking about all the different audiences I need to consider when distributing research. And I was reminded that catering to the audience is very important in promoting research use. 

Some managers want to know all about the methodology, error margins and the nitty-gritty. But most trust me to do my job and make sure the methodology is sound. They don’t want to sit through a presentation laden with complex research details. They want simplicity and a way to use the data.

This has taught me that it’s not good enough to create one research presentation and present the same information to different groups in the company. At least, it’s not good enough if you want most people to pay attention and act on the information. 

I’ve learnt to create a short presentation with 3 - 5 key findings and actions. I’ve learnt to create a top level presentation for senior managers and longer discussion presentations for other groups.

Some want a telephone conference. Others are so busy that they just want the file to read on a plane. Some managers want key driver analysis, correlations and more insights than the basic percentages and segments. While a few others just want to know if the data is “good or bad?”. 

The point of all this is that delivering research isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ situation. It takes effort and needs almost as much thought as the research itself. The more I try to cater to my audience, the more my research will be used. And that seems like a good thing for everyone.