Are you getting what you paid for?

Have you ever experienced feelings of immense frustration at having to read through reams and reams of data from your agency before getting to the answer you are looking for? If the answer to this is yes, you are not alone – it begs the question; what are you doing about it?

If we start at the beginning of the relationship with your agency, it is fair to assume that you have commissioned them to complete a piece of research based on a) your lack of time/resources/technology to complete the project in house and b) the expertise of the agency. In return, you want results that succinctly and accurately answer your business issue. Recent experience has led me to believe that sometimes the task at hand gets lost or confused leading to complications for clients as they struggle to interpret the information provided.

As your project progresses, you need to ensure that your agency does not lose sight of the reasons why you hired them. This is in your best interest, since it’s likely that any information they provide will be your responsibility to disseminate to the rest of your business. If you have to dig deep for the main messages in your report, or you are faced with dozens of slides to present to your stakeholders, something is wrong. The key messages should come across in a clear and concise way and should always refer back to the initial business issue in question.

There is a big emphasis right now on providing not just results but real insights alongside findings that are actionable to a business. This is what sets agencies apart. It might seem obvious, but often the desire to provide these interesting insights can supersede the critical task of data checking. This means that you could be presenting some great results to your business that are based on incorrect base sizes or inaccurate quotas. The credibility of your whole project is then likely to be questioned. When you choose your agency, you need to be confident that they have the correct team in place to enable you to achieve this. Promises of lots of senior bods on the team may seem great, but you have to ask yourself whether anyone is carrying out the tedious number checking.

There are clearly many elements involved in a research project; however getting the basics right is crucial. So, next time you are going through the motions of choosing an agency, ask yourself which one do you trust to understand your business issues and deliver actionable outputs… and remember, it’s not always about being big and flashy.