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If you’re a freelancer working on a market research project, you know too well that the client’s success depends on you. As such, you have to arm yourself with the right skills to deliver the best to them. You may have done similar projects before, but there’s no harm in going through what you already know. Who knows? You may learn one or two things in the process and become even better.

So, where do you start from, if you’re working on a marketing research project?

Of course, it all begins with writing a marketing research proposal, and every freelancer knows this. However, reality strikes when you start writing one. While you may have written a marketing research proposal before, it’s always different with every project. Therefore, it can still be challenging to write one even if you’ve done one before.

But does that mean it’s hard to break? Of course, not. With the right tips, you can always walk through it easily.

Before we look at some of the golden tips to writing a marketing research proposal of a kind, we need to understand something little about this document.

So, what’s a marketing research proposal?

The marketing research proposal is the document that acts as the rationale for undertaking a marketing research project.

Thus, the proposal has to be persuasive, thorough in its analysis and should be written in a non-technical language as much as possible. Marketing research proposal precedes the marketing research meant to determine the four P's of marketing: product, price, place, and promotion.

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Here are some important tips on how to write a marketing research proposal that will impress your client.

1. Outline the Purpose and Scope of Research

The first step in drafting a marketing research proposal is to ensure that the document states the question the study will attempt to answer. Like, what’s the purpose of the research? What does it seek to find out at the end of the project? This question forms the basis of the objective. Again, since the document may be read by someone who’s not familiar with what the research covers, you have to outline the objectives of the research clearly, for them to understand.

Besides reporting the problem, the proposal also includes a detailed background which provides the context as to why the ultimate goal is essential. Here, you need to convince your readers that whatever the research seeks to address is relevant and that there’s need for it. It’s not just about listing the objectives, but also letting the readers know what prompted the research.

The proposal should consist of estimated details of the solutions (for example, if cost is a factor of success or failure, you can include an estimated amount.) A reasonable timeline with significant milestones outlined (or even a Gantt chart) may be necessary if the research is of a considerable scope).

2. Evaluate the Marketing Environment

Your proposal should evaluate the client's marketing environment. Here, you need to give an overview of the client’s marketing environment. The environmental issues include:

  • Cultural issues: attitudes and demographic trends.
  • Technology: the internet trends, data, competitive infrastructure factors: pricing, service and speed.
  • Economic concerns: unemployment and the competition.

You can also evaluate the global marketing environment if the products are sold to different countries, bearing in mind different cultures, currencies and other factors play a huge role.

3. Sources of Data

Where is your client going to obtain the data from? Your marketing research proposal should answer this clearly. Data forms the basis of a research, and, therefore, the proposal must clearly highlight the main data sources. Usually, there are two sources of gathering data, namely primary and secondary sources.

  • Primary data sources provide firsthand information about something. They include interviews, online or face-to-face surveys, focus groups, and customer feedback. For a marketing research, customer reviews form the best primary data source. Customers usually give the best opinions about products, and these opinions give insight as to the previous market performance of those products.
  • Secondary sources provide information that has already been published. They include government publications, online searches, trade organizations, magazines and clipping services. Secondary sources act as an alternative when the primary sources are not available.

Make sure your marketing research proposal includes all your client’s data sources, both primary and secondary.

4. Methodology

Now that we have the data, which data analysis methods is the research proposing? You need to highlight this clearly in the marketing research proposal. Usually, you can choose to use either descriptive or statistical data analysis techniques.

Descriptive data analysis techniques include constructing tables of means and quantiles, measures of dispersion e.g. Variance, and cross-tabulations that can be used to evaluate contrasting hypotheses.

Statistical data analysis involves performing various statistical operations on the given data to come up with estimations and later test the evolving hypothesis.

Whichever measurement techniques you settle on, the marketing research proposal needs to maintain objectivity. This section of the proposal lays out the methods used to interpret the data. Here, you need to be very specific when highlighting the data analysis techniques to avoid any form of generalization.

If you’re talking about descriptive data analysis techniques, try to mention the specific type of analysis the research proposes.

Qualitative parameters include anecdotal evidence, a compilation of consensus opinions or even measuring the emotional intensity of respondents. A qualitative analysis uses figures to measure the data correctly, offering specific outcomes for the hypotheses being tested.

If an alternative research option is available, it should be explained and justified in the marketing research proposal.

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5. Getting the Format Right

When it comes to writing a marketing research proposal, you have to get the format pretty right. As a freelancer, you wouldn’t want to disappoint your client, and so, you better do it well. If you don’t know the right format to use, just check online for some marketing research proposal templates.

There are numerous online resources where marketing research plan templates can be downloaded. These templates are very reliable as they give the required format but still allow you to modify it to look as you would love (for example, adding your company logo and changing fonts). The marketing research templates also guide you on the different clauses that are required (and those that aren't needed, you can edit them out!)

So, don’t get stuck simply because you don’t know the right format to use. Get help online.

The Other Side of Market Research

A big problem of market research is that conventional tools are unable to assess the impact of the marketing investments on the target audience's behavior. This problem is because it's unable to track the steps from when the customer sees the product to when they decide to purchase it. Metrics like awareness and attitudes from existing customers.

Many people think a particular sports car is one of the best, but they won't buy it even if they can afford it. The flip side may also apply; they may not think much about a product or advert but still go ahead to make the purchase. These differences make market research somewhat unpredictable to the ultimate customer experience.

Even so, we just have to rely on the research outcomes even if the client feedback is not 100%. At least with the little information, we can get an insight into the market.