Be ready with research

In News, Strategic Communications by Roger Martin

Aim. Fire. Ready.

That’s messed up, bass-ackwards.

Ready. Aim. Fire. In the correct order, these are – at least metaphorically – the three steps we take in most everything we do in life to maximize our chances of succeeding: of bagging the buck, hitting our sales targets, meeting customer/client/member needs, buying a house or a car, choosing a doctor, and so on.

Being ready is job one. And ready starts with research.

At Martin Waymire and all competent public relations, marketing and advertising firms, our campaigns start with a solid foundation of quantitative and qualitative research. It reveals insights, advantages, weaknesses, and nuances that guide messaging, tactics, strategies, budgets and timing. Good research can disclose a campaign’s chances of winning or losing, and what to do and say to maximize the chances of succeeding. Without research, communications recommendations amount to little more than best-guesses based on what we, and our clients, believe or think we know. While even a blind squirrel can stumble upon a nut, campaigns based on gut-level guesses and assumptions are far less likely to succeed.

Research can also help organizations improve.

At Martin Waymire, we just completed a client satisfaction survey. We asked more than 50 current and former clients to tell us what they think about our firm. A battery of questions asked clients to rate the quality of our work, and their overall satisfaction with the firm, our team members, and the specific services we offer. Most questions offered respondents a scale of 1 to 10 (with 1 being the worst/terrible, and 10 being best/excellent).

I’m thrilled – to the point of sleeping better at night! – to report that nearly every current and past client gave us positive marks pretty much across the board for high-quality work, for doing what we say we are going to do, and for their overall satisfaction with the firm. Respondents offered steady ratings of 8s, 9s and 10s.

However, in a couple of instances, clients told us where they thought we could do better. One client, in particular, offered specific examples. Being that we are overly-sensitive and somewhat obsessive-compulsive about our firm’s performance (show us service sector entrepreneurs who are not!), we are taking measurable action steps to improve. Already our firm’s leadership team has met to review the findings. We covered them with all MW team members at a recent all-staff meeting. When we send out our next client satisfaction survey later this year, we hope it reveals improvement and every question posts all 9s and 10s.

If you don’t know what your clients, customers or members think about your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, quality of products and services, and what you do well and not so well, how can you improve and serve them better? Before you launch that next product, service or campaign, be ready with research first.