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A brand new opportunity has emerged in your small business radar, and it could propel your business at a captivating and profitable direction. It might be a new product or service line, a group of untapped consumers or perhaps -- keep your voice down today -- a possible merger with a smaller competitor.

Before getting too far ahead of yourself, you know that it's wise to thoroughly vet this chance by commissioning a market study report. At a certain point -- probably following your staff has completed gathering the necessary quantitative and qualitative information -- you must set out your expectations for your written report. How you approach this task should get their blood flow, too.

Issue Three Dictates
If your marketing team is new to the task, they're probably going to love your best three directives:

Tell a narrative. Tell a visual story, with lots of charts and graphs. Keep it brief.
They may not think they heard you right; after all, you didn't say you would like a market research report, didn't you? And are not most reports , voluminous and sometimes dull products?

Tell them to make no mistake: you anticipate a comprehensive effort that assesses each angle of the new business prospect. However, there are valid reasons that push your directives.

Tell a Story
The most compelling market research reports pivot on a story -- about why this new service or product line holds this claim, why that group of untapped consumers could benefit from your offerings or why merger could be a smart investment.

Like all good stories, this one may begin with an anecdote or focus on one individual -- that the"main character" -- who could function as the perfect customer. Telling the story of your study through her or his eyes, and with plenty of lively quotes, should flow directly into how chasing this new opportunity would progress your business goals. This is a crucial part of the story, too, since the opportunity would not even be worth considering if it did not conform with your company plan.

At this point, you may wish to share with your staff the expertise of a renowned producer of a men's fragrance that was prepared to embark on a marketing campaign -- targeted to men. Then the market study revealed that women, not men, make the majority of these purchases, and also the finding transformed the campaign.

Inform a Visual Story
As much of the qualitative information as possible ought to be consigned to graphs and charts on the market study report, not the actual written content. Numbers are easier to read, and evaluate, when they're displayed in a chart instead of tucked into a dense paragraph, in which the reader may struggle to translate their significance.

This point underscores the following reality about market study reports: you may think that it's being written for your benefit and that of your staff. And for now, it may be. Your viewers may also incorporate your enterprise attorney and accountant. However, some day, if it is appropriate, fresh stakeholders may browse the report, too, and charts and graphs will make it easier for them to digest.

Of course, you may always overdo a fantastic thing. Only relevant charts and graphs -- or the ones that advance the fundamental story -- ought to be included in the body of this market research report. Ancillary data should be relegated to the appendix -- that record repository that comes in the conclusion of a report.

Keep it Brief

By focusing on a persuasive story and relying on artwork, your team must find it a lot easier to tackle your third cardinal rule. They should know that you will judge the worth of their effort because of its quality, not the number of pages. (It is up to you in the event that you would like to inform them that many market research reports run from between 10 and 50 pages.) It will also help if they:


Use bullet points when they can. * Read each other's work and"peer reviewed" for clarity and concision.

Challenge every paragraph into the relevancy test. In other words, if a paragraph does not progress the basic story, strike it.

You will hesitate to call it an"outline," but you should communicate to your staff that the true worth of their report will depend on its own organization. Therefore if they don't enjoy the sound of establishing a step-by-step progression of the account, then turn them loose on PowerPoint, which will force the problem (in a good way). In the end, they might decide that this format -- and not a newspaper report -- is the very best one for their findings.

As liberating as this may be, most market research reports hew to tradition, and necessity, by adding:


A section on the study objectives. A section on the study methods. An executive summary. Detailed findings also, perhaps, the implications. Told in a lively manner, the intriguing finish ought to get everyone's blood pumping.