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Research in business: 3 ways to add value through knowledge and data

By Mikela Dennison, Senior Account Executive @ The Clarity Business

People love numbers and facts.

There's something about presenting well-researched evidence that provides a hard edge, helping you to reinforce and inform your business actions and decisions.

We love being able to help our clients use research to gauge their brand's position, how stakeholders perceive the organisation, and to identify areas that could be improved.

Why research?

From focus groups, to individual interviews, surveys, desktop research, to understanding data and finding innovative ways in which it can be presented, research offers a range of methods through which you can tune your message and actions to better connect with the people that matter to your business or organisation.

We can help you through the process at every stage, from research design to execution to using the information to shape your communications plan moving forward.

We can also help you to work through the practicalities of a research project: timeframes, responsibilities, cost-effective methods, outputs, engaging reports and presentations, and even using data visualisation and infographics to ensure your information packs a punch.

1. Gauging benchmarks and perceptions to drive improvements

We've worked with clients to engage with their external stakeholders, identifying strengths and challenges, and highlighting areas for improvement. The research can be used to shape a brand moving forward, as well as your vision and mission, providing you with a good overview of how you are perceived by the people and groups that can impact upon the success of your business or organisation.

Engaging and surveying your stakeholders also opens the doors for a more transparent, consultative relationship, where issues can be raised through an unbiased process and third-party facilitator.

You can also use the research as a benchmark for the future, so when you check back with your stakeholders, you can measure progress and changes against your yardstick - rather than aimlessly gathering feedback that can't be practically applied.

2. Data visualisation and making sense of the information

If you want to see how data visualisation can help you to reinforce your point, make your data clear and engaging for your audience, and highlight relationships and correlations, then we'd highly recommend you check out this fantastic TED Talk by David McCandless on data visualisation.

As you may know, we work closely with several of our clients to create stunning infographics, taking complex and lengthy data sets and turning them into an accessible, interesting and engaging visual format that can be shared online, in hard copy, and as a useful tool that provokes and informs conversations.

If you want to explore how data visualisation and infographics can help you to communicate your key messages, company information and any processes you use to your audience, then drop us a line so we can have a chat about your needs and how we can add value.

3. Opportunity beckons - but only if you know where to look

You might be thinking about starting up a business or heading into a new market. You know there are opportunities out there, but it's more of a hunch than anything at this stage.

Using market research can test out your idea, see what appetite your target audience has for your product or service, and it can also help you to iron out any kinks and hone your offering so it's of maximum use and value when you do get to market.

There is a raft of full-scale research companies in New Zealand if you need an extensive pool of participants, and there are also numerous online tools that you can apply to get a good understanding of your market and audience.

Online services such as Survey Monkey are now rolling out targeted audiences, where you pay to have your survey delivered to a captive, relevant and targeted group of people, resulting in specific data to drive your business and communications planning. Tools like this are always worth considering, and we'd be happy to have a discussion with you around how you can make best use out of research and information to shape your message and take your business to the next level.

Extra reading

Here are a few links if you'd like some further reading on how research can be applied in a business context:

Using focus groups to evaluate your business idea

Using market research to support decision making

How small business can use the research process

How to use market research to improve your business

Are you using research to enhance and improve your business offering? Let us know what you find the most effective or if you are considering using research in the future.

Thanks for reading.