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When is it Okay to Cut Corners on Research: DIY vs Full Service

saving pennies

Recently, a customer came to us after experiencing a market research nightmare. They decided to work with a company that gave them a really low price with an incredibly fast turnaround time. Both are great selling points and if they had provided actionable insights, it would have been a great deal! But that was not the case.

The day the CEO of the market research company was going through the research with our customer, he had to stop after explaining some of the data. In the middle of reading the data, he realized that the data were wildly incorrect. The CEO had to cut the meeting short to try and understand what happened during the research phase. Unfortunately, this nightmare too often becomes a reality when the decision is made to go the fast and cheap route. So, when is the right time to cheap out, and when should you spend money?

When Trimming the Fat Turns into a Less Than Acceptable Product

Making the decision to work with a market research firm is not something to take lightly. It’s important to understand what the firm or software can offer you. At one end of the spectrum, there are DIY platforms that allow you to make your own research questions and analyze all the data yourself. At the other end of the spectrum, you have full-service market research firms, like Marketing Analysts, that design research studies, manage field execution, analyze the data, and help integrate the insights into your business – with an eye on quality and integrity throughout the entire process.

How do You Know if it is Worth the Price?

is the price worth the value

Market research, like any other business, is selling a product. You want to make sure you are getting your money’s worth when you enter into an agreement with a firm. Some business or research questions require a full-service market research team, while others may not.

When you’re just trying to get an initial feel for what people might like – and when the investment (or risk) is low – companies have been known to use what we in the industry call Cocktail Party Research. This is when marketing professionals discuss ideas amongst peers, with a drink in hand at a cocktail party or even around the water cooler. Throw out an idea, see what others have to say. A sample size of 3.

As of late, more companies are using DIY platforms to answer these types of questions. For example, narrowing down 50 flavors of new ice cream flavors to 25. Or reactions to a few new names under consideration. This would be considered a low-risk research study, and the outcome may not have huge up- or down-sides.

The higher the risk, the more necessary it is to use a market research firm to ensure the outcome of the research is accurate and reliable and that the insights are explained and integrated into the business. When making a big decision for your company, with big dollars on the table, it is not the time to rely on your friends or co-workers or try your hand at doing research for the first time.

Using an experienced market research firm, like Marketing Analysts, to address your larger scope and bigger risk business questions, provides you with a team of experts specifically working on designing a research study based on years of experience with research design. A quality market research firm will use high-end analytics with artificial intelligence AND real people who study and understand data at the highest level. Not only should a research firm provide you with these data and insights but they should also help you integrate the insights into the business and help YOU understand how the information can help improve the product or business based on the research.

When to use a DIY Research Platform

“When” is the key word when deciding between a DIY research platform and a full-service market research firm. Using a DIY platform is not a bad thing. When utilized correctly, it can be a great tool for small businesses and low-risk research questions.


Here are some questions to ask when deciding between using DIY research or a Full Market Research Firm, like Marketing Analysts:

  • What target group are you trying to interview? Is it difficult to reach this group?
  • Is it important to accurately model a wider population group?
  • Will the result of this decision influence the company to spend or invest a lot of money?
  • Will a wrong decision result in a negative perception of the brand or a negative impact on users?
  • Is this study to delve into new or unknown territory for the brand?

If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, it may be in your best interest to have a conversation with Marketing Analysts about the details of your study and if a DIY platform is the best fit for your business need.

Marketing Analysts is a full-service research firm that will be your partner through the research journey. We help you integrate insights into your business by learning about your business and narrowing down the questions you need answered. This is not a one-size-fits-all approach. We provide ACTIONABLE insights and take your business to the next level.

Set up a consultation with Robert Clark, managing partner of the firm, to see how Marketing Analysts can help you!


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