Research – It’s all about the evidence

Nowadays we have little opportunity to really get stuck into the detail of things. We’re all in such a rush to ‘do things’, that we never seem to stop and look at the evidence around us. We never look at the why or explanation, instead, we jump to the answer. A long, deep discussion with a client highlighted this to me recently. We were exploring different research approaches to finalise the brief for a potential new study. After going around the houses and coming back to where we began we’d reached a strong conclusion. So far, so good.

Then, as ever, in trying to be helpful, I found myself blurting out the following words:

“Of course, we know why they are non-users…”

before very quickly stopping myself short.

You see I was about to share my views on a subject I had been involved in for more than a decade. It was an area I felt well qualified to talk about, but I suddenly realised that I’d be giving away my hard-earned knowledge for free. Not a smart commercial move.

It was only afterwards when I thought about it a little more that I realised it didn’t actually matter. No, it really is of no concern if I share what I know and for free. And the reason why is actually very simple.

evidence-tape

Research often involves doing the same thing over and over again. In time you find out that there are only a small number of possible outcomes. For instance:

I recall running a large project for a client running multiple sites. The project required us to repeat the same research in each location, a type of benchmark research. As we progressed through the project it became clear that we could make a pretty accurate guesstimate of what the research would say based on our previous findings. Despite this no one suggested we stop the programme.

In short, what we crave is not just the answer, but we also need the evidence. Understanding the reason why and gaining insight into the answer is often the piece of the jigsaw puzzle we were actually looking for. That means sometimes the answer is actually less important than the evidence.

So the next time I find myself blurting out an answer to a marketing problem based on my research experience I’ll not stop myself. I can be reasonably certain that even with the answer known there will still be a desire to carry on with the research. Simply because someone, somewhere will want to have the evidence too.

 

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