Where Great Research Goes to Die: Ask Amy

I love what I do for a living. I mean I really love it, freakishly so. I take great pride in providing clients with as much value as possible from research engagements. I am always looking for new, impactful, and insightful ways to present findings for maximum clarity, engagement, and traction. My number one priority is ensuring my clients yield a solid return on their research investment. So, it grates every fiber of my being when I see great research undermined by poor presentation – ultimately destined to the graveyard of wasted effort.

While flawless strategic research design and tactical execution are expected, it is ultimately poor execution of the final deliverable that kills research ROI. From the research buyer’s perspective, it is challenging enough to secure budget approval in the first place. But when a final deliverable fails to clearly inform project stakeholders, the research ROI becomes questionable, and in turn, makes it even more difficult to justify future research spend.

I once worked with a small team of QA Jedi masters. These guys were good. Beyond their unnatural grammar skills, these eagle-eyed folks could spot a random capitalization, extra space, or one eighth inch text box misalignment from three miles away. As a young project manager, I would toil over a PowerPoint report for hours before submitting to QA for editorial review. After reviewing your document, these skilled folks would arrive at your cube, document and red pen in hand, and tear off your arm and beat you over the head with it till you acknowledged your mistakes. These folks terrified me, but I completely adored them and still recognize them as some of the most dedicated people with whom I’ve ever worked.

My years of collaboration with that QA team were a tremendous and lasting gift. To this day, I’m obsessed with data design. After a couple of decades in research on both the client and supplier sides, I came to understand that communicating research findings without unnecessarily distracting the reader with poor design and formatting is paramount and requires great strategy. I’ve seen at least a thousand ways research insights have been poorly communicated, resulting in missed opportunities to hit home a meaningful insight – lost forever and dooming future research investment.

To this end, I’m working on a series of blog posts that discuss and give tips for improving data design and visualization. I’ll attempt to continue the Jedi tradition with the hope that these posts will help my fellow research community craft more effective, memorable deliverables, and preserve the inherent value of research.

If you have ever cringed at receiving poorly presented research, then we are kindred spirits. At Merrill Research we’ll present your data in an easily digestible and beautifully designed way to maximize your investment in market research. Contact Merrill Research today!

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