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Creating Better
Research Reports
Less Is More: Delivering Value
(Not Just Reams of Data)
From Your Research
Mike Sherman & Neil Gains
NewMR 2019 Sponsors
Communication
Gold
Silver
Creating Better
Research Reports
Less Is More: Delivering
Value (Not Just Reams of
Data) From Your Research
1. Clients are not happy!
2. Reports are too long and lack a
solution focus.
3. Concise, synthesized reports will
improve client satisfaction.
5
Very
43210
Not
Very
Market
Research
Human
Resources
Information
Services
Marketing
Finance and Accounting
How useful is the information?
In The 1990s CEOs Didn’t Value
Market Research
In 2019 The Problem Persists
0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%
70%
80%
90%
100%
Very poor Poor Fair Good Very good Excellent
Source: NewMR “Quality of Market Research Reports” survey, March 2019, “How would you describe the quality of that report?”
Report Receivers /
Users
Report Creators /
Writers
n=384n=112
In 2019 The Problem Persists
0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%
70%
80%
90%
100%
Very poor Poor Fair Good Very good Excellent
Source: NewMR “Quality of Market Research Reports” survey, March 2019, “How would you describe the quality of that report?”
Report Receivers /
Users
Report Creators /
Writers
n=384n=112
• In what ways was the report good?
“Accurate data, thorough reporting of
results, use of charts and graphs to
help visualize data”
• In what ways was the report poor?
“Writing was overly wordy and
conclusions were not insightful”
Users Want More Than
Visual Appeal*
Source: NewMR “Quality of Market Research Reports” survey, March 2019, “In what ways was the report poor/good?”
*Note: all paired quotes in this presentation are from the same person
• In what ways was the report good?
“Readability”
• In what ways was the report poor?
“Actionability”
Writers Know That
Actionability Is Lacking
Source: NewMR “Quality of Market Research Reports” survey, March 2019, “In what ways was the report poor/good?”
Less is More
1. Clients are not happy!
2. Reports are too long and lack a solution
focus.
3. Concise, synthesized reports will improve
client satisfaction.
3 Bad (But Common) Examples
1. The “War and Peace Report”
2. The Data Drop Report
3. The Agatha Christie Report
• In what ways was the report good?
“Good summaries … Very actionable
insights”
• In what ways was the report poor?
“Too long”
Reports Are “Too Long” …
Source: NewMR “Quality of Market Research Reports” survey, March 2019, “In what ways was the report poor/good?”
CREATOR / WRITER
• In what ways was the report good?
“Met the clients’ stated needs”
• In what ways was the report poor?
“Boring, paint by numbers, way too
long, not actionable”
… Boring…
Source: NewMR “Quality of Market Research Reports” survey, March 2019, “In what ways was the report poor/good?”
CREATOR / WRITER
• In what ways was the report good?
“Contained the key survey results”
• In what ways was the report poor?
“Tried to cram in too much info,
which made it very confusing to pull
out the insights and actions”
… “Hide” Their Insights …
Source: NewMR “Quality of Market Research Reports” survey, March 2019, “In what ways was the report poor/good?”
RECEIVER / USER (SUPPLIER)
• In what ways was the report good?
“Comprehensive”
• In what ways was the report poor?
“Lack of insightful analysis”
… And Lack Insights.
Source: NewMR “Quality of Market Research Reports” survey, March 2019, “In what ways was the report poor/good?”
RECEIVER / USER
“Many researchers are
still uncomfortable with
providing clear, concise
recommendations.”
Marjolein Van Nieuwkasteele,
former Head of Insights, Philips
These Are Long Standing
Problems
Source: Research World, April 2005, pages 13-14
LESS IS MORE
1. Clients are not happy!
2. Reports are too long and lack a solution
focus.
3. Concise, synthesized reports will improve
client satisfaction.
Solution Oriented And
Concise
• End result focused, synthesized
output
• Concise reporting
1. Elevator speech
2. One page executive summary
3. 15-25 page document
4. Extensive appendices
Everybody Agrees What Is
Important
Report Receivers / Users
0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%
Detailed
Rigorous
Objective
Practical
Concise
Insightful
Report Creators / Writers
0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%
Detailed
Rigorous
Objective
Practical
Concise
Insightful
Source: NewMR “Quality of Market Research Reports” survey, March 2019, “Which of the following do you think are most important for an ‘Excellent’ report?”
• In what ways was the report good?
“Report was visually appealing”
• In what ways was the report poor?
“Lacked clear recommendations
related to the business objectives,
although it met the research
objectives”
Users Want Concise Answers
Source: NewMR “Quality of Market Research Reports” survey, March 2019, “In what ways was the report poor/good?”
• In what ways was the report good?
“Charting was really well done. Great
infographics work”
• In what ways was the report poor?
“Too much detail … not enough
insights and recommendations”
Writers Know This
Source: NewMR “Quality of Market Research Reports” survey, March 2019, “In what ways was the report poor/good?”
"People don't want to buy a
quarter-inch drill. They want a
quarter-inch hole!”
Ted Levitt
Harvard Business School
Focus On Outputs, Not Inputs
Synthesis, Not Summary
SYNTHESIS
I’ve been living
dangerously
FACTS
I broke my knee
A burglar knocked in my
car window
I got a speeding ticket
SUMMARY
My knee, car and wallet
were all damaged
recently
The Elevator Speech
• Would your audience know your core
message from sharing a lift with you for less
than a minute…
• What issue you are addressing?
• What is your current hypothesis (answer)?
• What your next steps are?
• What do you want your audience to say when
they have to tell someone who hasn’t read the
report?
Less is More: Delivering Value (Not Just Reams of Data From Your Research)
Elevator Speech
Best Case Example
New Product Test
Answer: Launch!
Executive Summary
1. One page!
2. Starts with
elevator speech
3. Gives 2-5 key
reasons why
[Elevator Speech...........
.......................................
...............................] This is the
answer because:
1. _______________
2. _______________
3. _______________
POINT A
•1
•2
•3
POINT B
•4
•5
•6
POINT C
•7
•8
•9
OTHER FINDINGS
10.
11.
12.
BACKGROUNDCOVER PAGE
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
A.
B.
C.
CHART 2 CHART 3CHART 1
CHART 5 CHART 6CHART 4
CHART 8 CHART 9CHART 7
CHART 11 CHART 12CHART 10
NEXT STEPS APPENDIX
20 Pages!
1 2
3 4 5 6
10
14
987
131211
15 16 17 18
19 20
Concise Report
The Pyramid Principle
• Barbara Minto’s Pyramid
Principle: Logic in Writing,
Thinking and Problem
Solving
• Used extensively in
professional service firms
• “The technique is most
useful for those people in
an organization who must
write long analytical
documents, on the basis
of which other people
must make decisions.”
Things Are Better, But More
Improvement Is Needed
0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%
70%
80%
90%
100%
Much worse Worse About the same Better Much better
Source: NewMR “Quality of Market Research Reports” survey, March 2019, “Compared to two years ago, do you think the quality of reports now is …?”
Report Receivers /
Users
Report Creators /
Writers
LESS IS MORE
1. Clients are not happy!
2. Reports are too long and lack a solution
focus.
3. Concise, synthesized reports will improve
client satisfaction.
Q & A
Creating Better
Research Reports
Neil Gains
neil@tapestry.works
Mike Sherman
Mike@MikeSherman.net
Ray Poynter
NewMR 2019 Sponsors
Communication
Gold
Silver
Creating Better
Research Reports

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Less is More: Delivering Value (Not Just Reams of Data From Your Research)

  • 1. Creating Better Research Reports Less Is More: Delivering Value (Not Just Reams of Data) From Your Research Mike Sherman & Neil Gains
  • 3. Less Is More: Delivering Value (Not Just Reams of Data) From Your Research 1. Clients are not happy! 2. Reports are too long and lack a solution focus. 3. Concise, synthesized reports will improve client satisfaction.
  • 4. 5 Very 43210 Not Very Market Research Human Resources Information Services Marketing Finance and Accounting How useful is the information? In The 1990s CEOs Didn’t Value Market Research
  • 5. In 2019 The Problem Persists 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Very poor Poor Fair Good Very good Excellent Source: NewMR “Quality of Market Research Reports” survey, March 2019, “How would you describe the quality of that report?” Report Receivers / Users Report Creators / Writers n=384n=112
  • 6. In 2019 The Problem Persists 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Very poor Poor Fair Good Very good Excellent Source: NewMR “Quality of Market Research Reports” survey, March 2019, “How would you describe the quality of that report?” Report Receivers / Users Report Creators / Writers n=384n=112
  • 7. • In what ways was the report good? “Accurate data, thorough reporting of results, use of charts and graphs to help visualize data” • In what ways was the report poor? “Writing was overly wordy and conclusions were not insightful” Users Want More Than Visual Appeal* Source: NewMR “Quality of Market Research Reports” survey, March 2019, “In what ways was the report poor/good?” *Note: all paired quotes in this presentation are from the same person
  • 8. • In what ways was the report good? “Readability” • In what ways was the report poor? “Actionability” Writers Know That Actionability Is Lacking Source: NewMR “Quality of Market Research Reports” survey, March 2019, “In what ways was the report poor/good?”
  • 9. Less is More 1. Clients are not happy! 2. Reports are too long and lack a solution focus. 3. Concise, synthesized reports will improve client satisfaction.
  • 10. 3 Bad (But Common) Examples 1. The “War and Peace Report” 2. The Data Drop Report 3. The Agatha Christie Report
  • 11. • In what ways was the report good? “Good summaries … Very actionable insights” • In what ways was the report poor? “Too long” Reports Are “Too Long” … Source: NewMR “Quality of Market Research Reports” survey, March 2019, “In what ways was the report poor/good?” CREATOR / WRITER
  • 12. • In what ways was the report good? “Met the clients’ stated needs” • In what ways was the report poor? “Boring, paint by numbers, way too long, not actionable” … Boring… Source: NewMR “Quality of Market Research Reports” survey, March 2019, “In what ways was the report poor/good?” CREATOR / WRITER
  • 13. • In what ways was the report good? “Contained the key survey results” • In what ways was the report poor? “Tried to cram in too much info, which made it very confusing to pull out the insights and actions” … “Hide” Their Insights … Source: NewMR “Quality of Market Research Reports” survey, March 2019, “In what ways was the report poor/good?” RECEIVER / USER (SUPPLIER)
  • 14. • In what ways was the report good? “Comprehensive” • In what ways was the report poor? “Lack of insightful analysis” … And Lack Insights. Source: NewMR “Quality of Market Research Reports” survey, March 2019, “In what ways was the report poor/good?” RECEIVER / USER
  • 15. “Many researchers are still uncomfortable with providing clear, concise recommendations.” Marjolein Van Nieuwkasteele, former Head of Insights, Philips These Are Long Standing Problems Source: Research World, April 2005, pages 13-14
  • 16. LESS IS MORE 1. Clients are not happy! 2. Reports are too long and lack a solution focus. 3. Concise, synthesized reports will improve client satisfaction.
  • 17. Solution Oriented And Concise • End result focused, synthesized output • Concise reporting 1. Elevator speech 2. One page executive summary 3. 15-25 page document 4. Extensive appendices
  • 18. Everybody Agrees What Is Important Report Receivers / Users 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Detailed Rigorous Objective Practical Concise Insightful Report Creators / Writers 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Detailed Rigorous Objective Practical Concise Insightful Source: NewMR “Quality of Market Research Reports” survey, March 2019, “Which of the following do you think are most important for an ‘Excellent’ report?”
  • 19. • In what ways was the report good? “Report was visually appealing” • In what ways was the report poor? “Lacked clear recommendations related to the business objectives, although it met the research objectives” Users Want Concise Answers Source: NewMR “Quality of Market Research Reports” survey, March 2019, “In what ways was the report poor/good?”
  • 20. • In what ways was the report good? “Charting was really well done. Great infographics work” • In what ways was the report poor? “Too much detail … not enough insights and recommendations” Writers Know This Source: NewMR “Quality of Market Research Reports” survey, March 2019, “In what ways was the report poor/good?”
  • 21. "People don't want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!” Ted Levitt Harvard Business School Focus On Outputs, Not Inputs
  • 22. Synthesis, Not Summary SYNTHESIS I’ve been living dangerously FACTS I broke my knee A burglar knocked in my car window I got a speeding ticket SUMMARY My knee, car and wallet were all damaged recently
  • 23. The Elevator Speech • Would your audience know your core message from sharing a lift with you for less than a minute… • What issue you are addressing? • What is your current hypothesis (answer)? • What your next steps are? • What do you want your audience to say when they have to tell someone who hasn’t read the report?
  • 25. Elevator Speech Best Case Example New Product Test Answer: Launch!
  • 26. Executive Summary 1. One page! 2. Starts with elevator speech 3. Gives 2-5 key reasons why [Elevator Speech........... ....................................... ...............................] This is the answer because: 1. _______________ 2. _______________ 3. _______________
  • 27. POINT A •1 •2 •3 POINT B •4 •5 •6 POINT C •7 •8 •9 OTHER FINDINGS 10. 11. 12. BACKGROUNDCOVER PAGE EXECUTIVE SUMMARY A. B. C. CHART 2 CHART 3CHART 1 CHART 5 CHART 6CHART 4 CHART 8 CHART 9CHART 7 CHART 11 CHART 12CHART 10 NEXT STEPS APPENDIX 20 Pages! 1 2 3 4 5 6 10 14 987 131211 15 16 17 18 19 20 Concise Report
  • 28. The Pyramid Principle • Barbara Minto’s Pyramid Principle: Logic in Writing, Thinking and Problem Solving • Used extensively in professional service firms • “The technique is most useful for those people in an organization who must write long analytical documents, on the basis of which other people must make decisions.”
  • 29. Things Are Better, But More Improvement Is Needed 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Much worse Worse About the same Better Much better Source: NewMR “Quality of Market Research Reports” survey, March 2019, “Compared to two years ago, do you think the quality of reports now is …?” Report Receivers / Users Report Creators / Writers
  • 30. LESS IS MORE 1. Clients are not happy! 2. Reports are too long and lack a solution focus. 3. Concise, synthesized reports will improve client satisfaction.
  • 31. Q & A Creating Better Research Reports Neil Gains neil@tapestry.works Mike Sherman Mike@MikeSherman.net Ray Poynter