Your market research kickoff meeting is the first step to a successful project. It sets the tone for the entire market research process. Once the agreement page is signed and the NDA is checked off, the kickoff meeting is your next step. Although lots of work went into the proposal or scope of work, the kickoff meeting is a market research company's first chance to engage the client as a true customer.
Drive Research is a market research company in Syracuse, NY.
The kickoff meeting should involve all of the relevant stakeholders in the market research umbrella. This typically involves the President or CEO (for small businesses), marketing team members, and other relevant departments (e.g., customer service.) Market research kickoff meetings can involve as little as 2 people and up to 10+. As is the case with most meetings, the more people, the longer you'll likely need to complete the kickoff session.
Here are 6 tips to keep in mind and utilize at your market research kickoff meeting.
Send an Agenda Beforehand
The market research process is very structured and organized. The kickoff meeting is no different. The best market research companies have processes and procedures in place they follow. Why? Because they've used those same processes and procedures time and time again which have produced successful outcomes. Why re-invent the wheel?
As a market research company and consultant, you should send the agenda out ahead of the meeting. This will give everyone a chance to prepare their thoughts and understand what will be discussed. The agenda should be sent to all of those attending the meeting, indicating date, time, and room in the title. This becomes the document to structure the discussion. Copies should be printed out beforehand by the market research company just in case attendees have no access to phones, tablets, or laptops in the meeting. Meetings without those often work best.
Start with Objectives
Although the proposal was written to address the objectives at-hand, the kickoff meeting is a great way to rehash those topics to truly understand what is important and if anything has changed since the proposal was written or accepted. As a market research company, your job is to listen to the client's needs so this is the other reason Drive Research likes to start here.
The objectives of the study give the client the opportunity to discuss the key items they want to be addressed through the market research. This often gets them excited about the process and what will be learned. It also ensures the major highlights and needs are covered and fully discussed at the beginning of the meeting while time is available. Another benefit of discussing these at the beginning is it allows some attendees to leave after they've said their part if they have other priorities.
I created these 3 questions years ago as part of every market research kickoff agenda I created and I continue to use them today. Here are the 3 questions our market research company likes to ask as part of the discussion of the opening objectives with our clients:
- What are your goals from the market research?
- What would you like to learn from the market research and the report?
- How would you like to use the results of the market research?
Although these are simplistic and general, it gets everyone on the same page from the onset.
Recommend Questions from Prior Experience
As a market research company and consultant, the kickoff meeting is largely focused on learning from and listening to the client. You and your team members should actively take notes as you listen to feedback. This feedback from the kickoff meeting is used to derive survey questions as you write your draft instrument.
However, because you were likely involved in the proposal writing and you likely have experience in the client's industry or similar industry form past studies, you should prepare some recommended questions for the market research to discuss. This could include suggesting and explaining net promoter score (NPS) for a customer survey. Or it could involve suggestion brand perception or word association questions for an image and awareness study.
If you have past experience in the industry you'll likely know which metrics or KPIs drive loyalty. Or you might be aware of certain barriers and issues you ran into with prior surveys. Bring all of this knowledge to the table with you for the kickoff meeting. Be prepared and help guide your client through the market research.
The point here is, the client is leaning on you to be the expert in the process. The kickoff meeting is a give and takes of customizing questions based on the client's needs but also recommending specific questions to ask and how to ask them to add value to the survey process. Here are 3 questions you can add to any customer survey to improve and value and ROI of your market research.
Highlight Your Process
As stated above, market research is not rocket science. Although each project involves some level of customization and adjustments, the general process for market research is nearly identical from project to project. It flows from kickoff to set up to fieldwork to reporting. Those are the 4 general steps but there are many mini-steps in-between.
This is your chance during the kickoff to discuss your process and show the client their project will be managed with the rigor and attention it needs. As you highlight the process here are some process points you'll likely want to touch on.
- Project workplan - this specifies key tasks, deliverables, dates, and responsible parties. It becomes a living document that is updated and shared weekly during the life of the project.
- Survey draft - clients who haven't conducted market research before may fear you'll take their feedback from the kickoff and tomorrow their survey is going out the door. Talk about the iterative survey process from draft to revisions to final edition. Also, mention how the survey will be programmed and tested and they'll receive a survey link to see how it looks online. A final piece here is to discuss the soft-launch to ensure everything is working properly for their market research project. This puts them at ease and gives them the confidence in your market research company.
- Reporting - talk about how the report will be structured. We like to structure our reports at our market research company by using an executive summary of themes, recommendations with action items, infographics, and an appendix with charts and graphs for all questions in the survey. Talk about the debrief and how additional analysis can be completed if questions arise.
Those are just 3 of the topics and items you should walk your client through as a market research company and consultant.
Touch on Timeline
In addition to the quality of the market research and the cost, timeliness is typically the other top-of-mind question from a client. They want to know how long the process will take and when they will receive a final report. Use the tail-end of the market research kickoff meeting to highlight the timeline which is now tied to the process you just reviewed.
For example, talk about how the survey draft will be delivered about a week from today. From there you will spend a few days revising and finalizing the survey before programming and testing it. Fieldwork will take approximately 2 to 3 weeks with an initial invitation and a few reminders. From there your market research company will need a week or 2 to clean the data, analyze it, and write and comprehensive report. These times are all theoretical depending on the type of methodology and how quickly results are needed.
The timeline makes the market research project real. At the end of the kickoff, you'll want to make the claim if everything remains on schedule and goes as planned, the client will receive a report on March 15th from your market research company. The timeline sets this expectation.
Finish with Next Steps
The last piece of the market research kickoff agenda covers next steps in the process. At this point you've covered objectives, talked about survey questions, addressed your process, and discussed timeline so the client may be left wondering "what now?" Including a bullet point list of next steps is a good final item.
The next steps should start with the project workplan, followed by a draft instrument (survey, interview guide, etc.) You may also need to highlight next steps for the client such as delivering a secure customer contact file including name, email, etc.
Promise and Deliverable and Commit to it
Before you wrap up the meeting, make a commitment to have something to the client by a specific date. You've already passed your first test by delivering a kickoff meeting agenda ahead of time to keep everyone on track and organized for this meeting. The second test reaffirms trust in the relationship and the process.
Our market research company likes to commit to delivering a project workplan within 24 hours of the kickoff meeting. This shows our flexibility, ability to turn-around a deliverable quickly, and also serves as a nice recap on how the project will work and what to expect in chronological order.
Although a market research kickoff agenda may seem like a meaningless and unnecessary one-page document, our market research company views it as much more. We treat it as a relationship-builder, a chance to listen to our client's needs, and a chance to prove ourselves. With this in mind, it has a lot more meaning to our company than a few bullet points on a PDF.
Drive Research is a market research company located in Syracuse, NY. We work with businesses both large and small to consult with them on their market research and deliver the answers they need to drive marketing tactics and organizational strategy.
Questions about your next market research project?
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 315-303-2040.