Before undertaking a research process, especially a lengthy or costly one, it is in everyone’s best interests to draft a research proposal that all decision-makers can review and agree upon. One article on the matter states that “The proposal is a rationale for undertaking a research project and as such it must be persuasive, written in non-technical language and thorough in its analysis.” The proposal serves several functions, a few of which I will briefly explore here.
Facilitates marketing research planning
Utilizing a research proposal allows the researcher and all other parties invested in the results to develop a thorough project overview and the scope of the said project.
States the research problem
What is the reason for the research? You are seeking information from research to solve a problem, even if that problem is only the lack of information itself. Stating it clearly will help steer the research in the right direction.
Specifies the research objectives
Outline what your research project needs to accomplish to solve your problem. If for example, your problem is the need to segment your audience better, one of your objectives may be to determine whether there is a statistically significant difference between males and females in their attraction to your product.
Details the research strategy
How will you go about finding the answers you need? Will you be using a survey, a focus group, or a field experiment? You also need to determine the specific methodologies to be used at each stage and ensure that they are geared toward reaching your objectives.
Helps align key stakeholders
As the researcher, you are likely not the only one invested in the answers that need to be found. It is important to set and align the expectations of all interested parties, making sure all are in agreement about what is both within and outside of the project’s scope.
Contains a timetable
One of the expectations that need to be set is the amount of time that the research should be expected to take. This is important not only to prevent unrealistic expectations but also to begin planning for when the information can become usable.
Contains a budget
This is one of the most crucial functions. Setting a realistic budget will help you in outlining the const/benefit balance of your research project, and thereby justify its value.
Next Steps: For more on setting objectives before undertaking research, check out this post from last month.