Overcoming Corporate Myths & Unrealistic Demands
Managing Expectations: For the great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie – deliberate, contrived and dishonest – but the myth – persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the clichés of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.
– John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Affirmation, Not Erudition
Market researchers need to help their clients manage expectations. Corporate decision-makers often conduct market research to obtain affirmation that their products and services are the best in the market. They do not want to hear about vulnerabilities or threats to market share and profits. Since negative feedback is seen as a threat to their employment, these decision-makers tend to downplay or ignore research findings that expose weaknesses in the products and services they have been assigned to market. Corporations are not democracies, and employees know what will get them get promoted and what could potentially get them fired.
This is the great challenge that a savvy market researcher can overcome by preparing the client beforehand.
To minimize the risk of upsetting decision-makers and to prepare them for the eventuality of any negative market research findings, the market researcher can manage expectations by giving the client an active role in the preparation and conduct of the market research project. This can be done using a Project Description Form which identifies the following:
1. Project leads
2. Purpose of the Project
3. How the findings will be used
4. Timing of the project
5. Primary deliverables (the “must have” research findings and why they are necessary/how they will be used)
6. Secondary deliverables (the “nice to know” research findings and why they are important/how they will be used)
7. Tertiary or unexpected findings and how they will be handled, especially if they are negative in nature)
8. Research methodology (Quantitative, Qualitative, mystery shops, etc.)
9. Resources and qualifications required: interviewers, mystery shoppers, etc.
10. Fieldwork: number & identity of competitors to be mystery shopped, sample size for quantitative research, etc.
11. Data points to be researched: e.g. pricing, unique selling proposition, target market, customer satisfaction (with pricing, quality, etc.)
12. Resources that client will share with market researcher: internal research, debriefing of personnel, etc.
By working with the client in completing this form, the market researcher will be to manage expectations and to reduce the likelihood of hostile responses to any negative research findings.