In business today, there are two unrelenting demands that shape and influence everything we do. Time and money. This applies to operations, administration, production, distribution.

Even research.

As we see it, there are two ways to save time in research. You can do everything you normally do, but in a hurry. That, however, brings the risk of errors and inaccurate data.

Or you can do the research with greater accuracy, eliminating targets and audiences that don’t matter and only investigating those that do.

Likewise, there are two ways to save money on research. You can scale back the size of the project, meeting budget demands, but falling short on other goals.

Or you can narrow, not the scope of your project, but its focus—targeting and interacting only with those respondents who will move your product, your brand and your market ahead.

This is the essence of Agile Research.

Agile Research processes begin by defining a desired outcome. We call it “Starting at the End.” We begin every effort by reviewing findings from existing research and secondary resources, then—armed with that information—launch “First Step” research to confirm the target audience, test the issue outline and elicit an initial response to the subject matter. This highly instructive process almost invariably leads to meaningful modification of the initial project design.

Then, we direct our clients to listen to the right customers. We’ve discovered that customers and prospects who demonstrate the highest levels of engagement, enablement and disposition within a category, are central to everything. We call them Catalytic Customers. They are more informed about the market and the brands with which they are involved—which makes them excellent research subjects. And, they have the added plus of influencing their peers through example or direct socialization. Catalytic Customers not only influence marketing, they influence markets. Certainly from a user’s perspective, Catalytic Customers know your product better than you do. Listen to them.

Finally, it’s about breaking things down into manageable bites. Smaller, more frequent assays of the marketplace invariably yield more accessible, more affordable, and—most importantly—more actionable insights for marketing.

To stay relevant, research must begin to operate at the speed of business. It must get smaller, faster, more nimble, more agile. And that requires focus.

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