Keeping the “Partner” in Partnership

“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.”
~ Henry Ford

We’re all aware of the fact that “two heads are better than one,” but in our fast-paced work environments it can be hard to make the time for team collaboration.  When it comes to working with your marketing research partners, it’s not always feasible to set aside time to share background information on your product category, competitive set, and past research findings.

However, there is an encouraging trend becoming more prevalent among brand managers and customer insights professionals. It’s an attitude of collaboration marked by a willingness to share current information and assumptions about their brand, products, and marketing challenges with their trusted research partners.  One might ask what is prompting this engagement effort.  The answer is simple – companies who are open to sharing internal business strategies with their research partners find that their market research results are more likely to yield the specific information they need to make critical business decisions quickly and with confidence.

We’ve seen this shift take place with a number of clients. Recently, we presented research findings during a client summit to stakeholders across their organization.  This summit involved a discussion of key findings and implications from the research we collected as it related to the internal strategies and initiatives that the client had shared with us throughout the design and analysis phase of the study. Doing so helped maximize the value of the marketing research by bringing the data to life in a relevant and impactful story.  Key stakeholders were not only informed on a broader level, but the presentation also served as a jumping off point for the client team to begin action planning.  As a result, this client chose to continue participating in quarterly partnership meetings with our research team for the sole purpose of knowledge sharing in order to add value to future research outcomes.

Another effective way to share knowledge is to bring multiple research partners together to discuss research findings with the client in a group setting.  At the DRG, we’ve participated in a number of these “research forums” and they always prove to be extremely productive for our client. They become collaborative brainstorm sessions where the implications of various research studies are explored, helping the client to develop a holistic understanding of their customer, brand, and competitive landscape.  The opportunity for the client to ask questions among the different research partners helps bring about a deeper level of understanding of the research findings across individual studies.  It also helps educate the participating research partners about the questions and challenges our client needs to address – which prevents duplication of effort and ensures that all research projects are finely tuned to meet our client’s unique situation.

Here are five helpful strategies you can use to ensure your market research partners are positioned to deliver the most immediately relevant market intelligence to help drive your business decisions:

1. Extend Invitations to Relevant Internal Meetings

While many internal discussions will not be well-suited for external participants, select meetings may be an ideal fit for research partners to attend, such as business development and brand strategy meetings.

2. Share Plans for Operational Improvements

Public information regarding improvements to internal operations can be extremely beneficial to your research partner.  This will allow your partner to be proactive with updates to questionnaires, executive reports and stakeholder snapshots, for example.

3. Let the Stakeholder’s Voice be Heard

As your research partners have less interaction with internal stakeholders, they have fewer opportunities to hear from them.  Make it a point to share new stakeholder objectives with your research partner.  This will help to ensure that research results will be relevant throughout your organization.

4. Participate in Brief Status Meetings with Your Research Partner

Your research partner will welcome your time and appreciate your feedback. You’ll be confident your engagements are on target – without filling up your inbox.

5. Share Your Preferred Industry Resources

There are hundreds of publications, associations and societies that serve as available resources for industry information.  By sharing your preferred intelligence sources, your research partner will be able to link your results to the industry trends that are most relevant and credible to your organization.

Being open to developing inclusive partnerships will help you get the most out of your research investment.  In return, your research partners will be in a better position to provide constructive, on-point consultations, along with the most meaningful research findings possible.

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