In recent years, there has been a growing appetite amongst British entrepreneurs in starting up a business. Figures from Start Up Britain show that 608,110 new businesses launched in 2015, an increase from 581,173 in 2014, and 526,446 in 2013. One industry that is particularly thriving is the market research industry, which according to the Director General of ESOMAR, could be worth £46bn rather than the currently estimated £30bn; clearly positive relationships between businesses are constantly being made.
Despite the solid growth in the industry, some businesses miss out on opportunities because they are unaware of research suppliers who may be more suitable for their projects than those they currently work with. However, encouragingly, our own research shows that only one fifth (21 per cent) of research buyers believe a supplier they work with needs to be ‘a large well-known agency’. Through connecting with suppliers based on their expertise rather than size, these businesses are expanding connections and injecting fresh life into the market research industry. Although some barriers still exist, for example, a fifth (21 per cent) of research buyers prefer to have worked with an agency before, there are plenty of ways research businesses can make new connections in the industry and, often, the supplier best suited for a brief may in fact be a little heard of agency.
So how can these businesses connect with each other to develop strong relationships with new research partners? Below are my top tips for success:
Research suppliers need to manage expectations of businesses commissioning briefs as well as be honest with themselves about what they can deliver. Pitching for higher budget research briefs in a new sector is always admirable, but over-selling on capabilities will only lead to struggling with the workload, and a damaged relationship between companies. Setting achievable goals and pitching for briefs that a company is confident they can perform well on is key to building a positive reputation and making strong connections within the industry.
Submit a detailed brief
Buyers and suppliers of research benefit equally from a detailed brief; the objectives must be clear so that potential suppliers are completely aware of the expertise required when pitching. This offers suppliers a better chance of offering advice and recommendations, which only adds credit to their capability in the buyer’s eyes.
Be adaptable and adjustable
Although a research partner might come highly recommended, one business’s brief will differ immensely from another’s, so finding a partner online based on the brief’s needs and a suppliers credentials will often result in a more lucrative and beneficial relationship. The research industry houses some great minds which won’t always be the best known brand or the largest agency, but will be the ones equipped with the capabilities needed to meet the brief. So businesses shouldn’t be afraid to branch out and try new agencies they may not have heard of before, as this could lead to a more successful research campaign.
Be explicit with expectations
It is important that those wishing to buy market research are very clear on what they expect to achieve from the research project. Key points to cover in a brief are a good level of detail, realistic timings and clear budget parameters. It’s essential that they highlight deadlines from the start, specify sample size and, most importantly, highlight what the objectives are from the research, otherwise they may find they do not receive the desired results.
Businesses shouldn’t be afraid to be challenging, especially when most buyers are open to some scrutiny, as it demonstrates a supplier’s commitment to the brief and knowledge of the industry. Businesses can convey their understanding of the industry by asking questions and, in addition, buyers are able to select a research partner based on mutual understanding rather than just cost.
To echo my earlier point that start-up businesses are growing in Britain; Luke Johnson, chairman of the Centre for Entrepreneurs, cites the reason behind this as technology. New technology makes the process of building a business easier, quicker and cheaper. These advantages are the same for sourcing a research partner online, with the added bonus of linking companies that have the best expertise for the job and forging new relationships. If both buyers and suppliers of research follow these pieces of advice then better connections can be made in the market research industry, igniting growth and resulting in more tailored and comprehensive research.