Through the Looking Glass Mindfully – Top Research Tips for 2015

If there were a looking glass for the focus and direction of really useful Reputation Research in 2015, the following three rules should guide ever better insights:

# 1.  The 4 core principles for genuine business value of Reputation Research:

  1. The research must ask relevant questions – Reputation for What, Among Whom, for What Purpose?
  2. The findings must indicate some specific action
  3. Those making decisions based on the data must trust what the data says (go with a reputable provider who has experience)
  4. The research must help prioritise action and improve performance – otherwise don’t do it.

# 2.  The 5 Dos & Don’ts include:

  1. Don’t try to measure EVERYTHING – be clear about what you need to find out, from whom & why.
  2. Do avoid questionnaire creep – if you are not sure about what you’ll do with the answer, take it out.
  3. Do try to connect with other research – e.g. employee engagement studies, customer feedback, etc. (see 5, below)
  4. Do aim to get a financial value outcome – this helps to focus the mind of senior leaders.
  5. As you develop KPIs, don’t let all the focus be on getting the number (whatever that is) to move – rather focus on changing/improving the underlying business to help it move.

#3 – Top Trends in Research – the 6 ‘S’ factors:

  1. SMARTER – research is asking better questions focusing on the drivers of behaviour and trust.  Be clear about what you are trying to unlock.
  2. SHORTER – despite the temptation for mission-creep, questionnaires and surveys are getting shorter and simpler, not longer.  Be aware that long surveys tend to ask everything except the things that really matter.
  3. SOCIAL – behavioural economics and social psychology are making more inroads into research design and analysis.  Be focused on human emotions and drivers.
  4. SEMINAL – recognised third-party studies can be very useful as they are consistent across a number of companies and over time.  Be sure that these are useful proxies for what you want to measure and you can extract the insight from reconciling possible divergences in different sources.
  5. STABLE – consistency across data and research will help integrate key findings and alignment of the business. Be disciplined and rigorous for the sake of the business.
  6. SEXY – data visualisation is the way forward. Research is only a means to an end, not an end in itself. Rather than showing off the cleverness of the process, be sure to make it interesting and focus on how the business can benefit visually.