What is a Marketing research proposal?
A marketing research proposal is a document designed to sell your services by showing potential clients the research that you will carry out for their project. Whether you’re a freelance marketing consultant or you have your own marketing agency, a market research proposal will cover what research needs to be done, how you’ll go about it, and why they should choose you for the project.
A proposal is typically one of the first points of contact that you have with an organization. Therefore, it’s a chance to make a strong first impression.
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What to include in the Marketing research proposal
A market research proposal will outline your market research plan and each critical step you need to take to perform the necessary research. It usually consists of three parts.
- Introduction: This includes project objectives and scope, target market, and methodology, including data collection methods.
- Discussion: This covers existing knowledge of the market, case studies or competitor analysis, a project timeline, proposed budget, deliverables, and ethical considerations.
- Summary: This concludes what you expect to achieve from the market research, how it will support the initial objectives, and why your company is the best for the job.
At the top of any market research proposal template should be the title of your document followed by who it has been written by and who it’s for. You can also include both company addresses here if you wish.
Proceed to outline the project description and the purpose of performing the market research. What are you trying to achieve? Why is this research needed? Who will be conducting it? What problem are you trying to solve for the client?
You should also include a methodology section in your introduction. The research methodology should dive into what primary and secondary research will be conducted, how data will be collected, and the expected outcomes. As a freelance researcher, you’ll already know this, but it’s worth covering what’s included in each to the client:
- Primary research is research that you carry out yourself in the form of two research methods: qualitative and quantitative research. Qualitative research relies on first-hand observation from things like interviews, questionnaires, and focus groups. Quantitative research, on the other hand, relies on the collection and analysis of data from an online survey and polls.
- Secondary research is research that has already been published and comes from secondary sources. This may include academic literature, print publications, and online studies.
It’s important to give an overview of your target audience in your methodology too.
For instance, if your client is trying to determine whether it’s a good time to launch a new product, your methodology in your market research proposal would explain how you plan to arrange a focus group with their target audience of females aged 16-24. Being present in the meeting, asking the right questions, and making notes to refer to later on would confirm whether the prospective product could be useful and — ultimately — successful.
The discussion section of your marketing research proposal is typically the meatiest. It’s where you should demonstrate what you already know about the industry and company, while getting into the finer details of the market research project.
- Existing Industry Knowledge: Prospective clients are likely going to want to hire someone who knows what they’re talking about. Right? Demonstrate that’s you by discussing the market and how it’s being affected in terms of the PEST analysis (politically, economically, socioculturally, and technologically). You can also cover case studies or a competitor analysis of companies that have already undertaken the same research and achieved similar goals.
- Timeline: For the research items that you listed in your methodology, include time frames of when each one will be conducted. You don’t have to be super precise here — it’s more about giving your client a realistic idea of the timings of key project milestones. However, exact details can be tweaked and laid out in a marketing research contract once your proposal and project quote has been approved.
- Proposed Budget: Any market research proposal template has to include a budgeting section. This is where you would break down how much you expect the research to cost, while offsetting it with how the client can make the most out of their investment. Just like with the timeline, the information doesn’t have to be exact at this stage. It’s more a rough estimate to ensure that the project expectations of both parties align.
- Deliverables: This section should answer any questions that a prospective client may have on the general organization of the project. In other words, it should tell them how you plan to present the research and its findings, whether it’s in the form of a one-off report, series of meetings, or collaborative Google Docs. You may choose to hand-deliver a printed copy of your findings or email through a PDF file. Either way, this section is a significant part of a market research proposal as the findings taken from the document need to be actionable by the marketing team.
- Ethical Considerations: This part of the market research proposal should outline any ethical issues that may arise throughout the course of your research, from conflicts of interest to concerns about supplier relationships. It should also cover how you plan to deal with participants, data gathering, and privacy issues before the project has even begun.
For example, you may write something like the following: “Each participant will be told that their input in this research is voluntary. They will be provided with a form to assure them that their data will remain confidential for the purposes of this research and won’t be used by third parties. They must sign this form in person or we can accept digital signatures to consent to these terms.”
The summary tends to be the shortest section of your market research proposal. It’s where you would refer back to the initial project objectives and conclude the desired outcomes from the market research.
It’s a good idea to end on a punchy note by describing why your potential client should become an actual client.
- What can your company offer to this project that no other company can?
- Why are you the perfect person or team to perform the research?
- What makes this proposal unique?
Don’t lose sight of the fact that you’re trying to convince somebody (or some people) of your value. You want them to take action after reading your proposal, which is why you should include a compelling Call-To-Action (CTA). Let them know what the next steps entail, and how to take them.
How to write a Marketing research proposal
The truth is, it’s difficult to draft a market research proposal without some key information from your prospective client.
To gather all of the details you need to create a winning marketing research proposal, follow the below steps.
Find out exactly what the client wants to achieve
During your initial email or phone discussion, ask your client what they want to get out of the research. Are they rebranding and want to redefine their target market? Or are they testing out a new product with a small group of people before unleashing it to the masses?
Either way, it’s useful to know their final goals so that you can start to make a plan on how to help them achieve them.
Discuss the finer details
Alongside your prospective client’s research objectives, you need to find out more details in terms of their:
- Target demographics
- Project deadline
- Project budget
You should also ask them if there’s any other key information that they would like you to include in the market research proposal. This will ensure that you have everything you need upfront without having to make extensive edits later on.
Figure out what sets you apart
Keep in mind that you haven’t been awarded the job yet. A work proposal is essentially a sales document — it almost serves as a resume before the client decides that you’re the ideal person to hire.
As such, do some company research to put you ahead of your competition. Is there a link you can make with the company based on your background and interests? Why should they care about you? What do you offer that no one else does?
Be sure to feature all of this information in your market researching proposal, and don’t be afraid of highlighting your strengths and wins.
Creating a Marketing research proposal is simple with Bonsai
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You can find a template specific to market research and edit it to meet your needs in minutes. Then all you have to do is send it off to your client, which you can do without even leaving the platform. Talk about a time- and energy-saver!
The marketing research proposal template is professional and refined in structure. This provides clarity to your potential client by laying out exactly what you can do for them within their timeline and budget.
Simply enter your information, sit back, and be prepared to wow your prospective client so much that they hire you on the spot.
Note: Sign up for free and get started!
Marketing research proposal FAQs
How long should a marketing research proposal be?
A market research proposal should be concise and fluff-free. It should cover all the obligatory information without dragging it out. After all, prospective clients are busy reviewing other proposals and working on further aspects of their business.
What should the tone and writing style of a marketing research proposal be?
Because your market research proposal is only a couple of pages long, the writing style should be clear and easy to read. The language should be simple, everyday, and familiar, using short sentences that get to the point and won’t clutter up the document.
The tone of your plan should be informative and position you as the expert to leave a positive, long-lasting impression on your prospective client.
What is the main purpose of marketing research?
Marketing research aims to investigate and assess how certain factors influence consumer behavior. This provides key insights that are relevant to decision making.
Marketing research can identify new business opportunities and avoid business failures. That said, above all, it can be used to inform a company’s marketing strategy to help them achieve their business goals.