April 23, 2019

8 Keys to a Successful Market Research Project

market research project
john work photo- white backgorund

John Cusmina

Author
President, TL Health

I have been working in the healthcare industry for more than 34 years.  I have worked at IMS, Medeva, Shire, AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline and now I run my own market research company, TL Health.  I have worked across many different functions: sales, sales operations, marketing, market research and product management.  Over all those years, companies, and roles, I have developed what I think are the keys to a successful market research project.

Here are my keys to producing a great market research project that will help you make better, more informed business decisions: 

Step 1: Make sure the study objectives are aligned with your business needs

This is the probably the most important step. Identify clearly what you need from your study.  Write out the business issues you are trying to solve and the questions you need answers to.  Then sit down with your team and make sure you all agree on the objectives. Once you have settled on your research objectives, put them in your request for proposal (RFP). If you are unclear about the objectives of the study, the study has no chance of delivering good results.

Step 2: Select a market research vendor with sound methodology and excellent business skills

When selecting a vendor, experience in a particular therapeutic area is really not that important.  And with the internet, your vendor can get up to speed fairly quickly with most disease areas.  It is my feeling, that you should be the expert in the therapeutic category and be willing to share this knowledge with your vendor.  Your vendor should be an expert in market research methods and business. I want a vendor who has marketed and/or sold before, so they understand my business issues and how to solve them.  The last thing you want is your vendor suggesting tactics and ideas that just don’t make business sense.

Step 3:  Provide context so the vendor understands the business problem and situation

Spend time with your research partner.  Explain to them the relevant issues, objectives and team expectations. This gives them some good context of what the brand is going through and what is within the scope of the brand strategy.  In this way, when they are making recommendations from the study results, they are aligned with the overall brand strategy.

Step 4:  Make sure you understand the methodology

Pick a vendor who has good market research skills and can explain their methodology to you.  Ask questions about the methodology. How big of a sample size will they be using? How will the data be collected? How are they selecting candidates to participate in the study?  If they can’t explain it and you don’t understand it, DON’T USE THEM! 

Step 5: Know who you are talking to when you field the study

The best way to recruit is to take your own internal HCP database and bump that up against your vendor’s opt-in database. If you don’t have your own database, make sure you are working with a vendor who has a credible panel of physicians that have been properly screened to ensure they are appropriate for your study. In this way, you know you are talking to the right people!  The best research study can fail simply by talking to the wrong people.

Step 6: The presentation should address ALL the objectives from the proposal

Ensure that your vendor’s presentation will address the objectives in the proposal!  How many times have I run a study in the past only to find out that not all the study objectives were addressed?  Why did I spend time writing the RFP?

Step 7:  The executive summary should be short and concise

The presentation should have an executive summary that addresses the objectives of the study and provides clear recommendations for moving forward.  The summary should be limited to about five key takeaways and the main presentation should be no more than twenty slides.  The appendix should have all the other slides addressing each individual question.

Step 8:  Make sure the presentation is aligned with the brand strategy

Ensure that the recommendations are following the brand strategy and strategic drivers, so they align with your strategic plan.  Continue to build on the brand story. How will you take what you learned from the study to improve the success of your brand? Think about your next steps.

If you follow these eight steps, you are on your way to market research success and will be able to make better, more informed business decisions!

john work photo- white backgorund

John Cusmina

John has over 34 years of pharmaceutical industry experience working in Product Management, Market Research, Sales and Sales Operations for companies such as GSK, AstraZeneca, Shire, Medeva Pharmaceuticals, and IMS Health. His specialties include: Market Strategy Planning & Development, Launch and Operational Planning, Market Research, Multi-Channel Promotions and Business Development.

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