Due Diligence When Buying Market Research and Analysis

Date Published: September 19, 2019
Musings from my time in marketing and selling research and analyst services over the years….
I have heard my share of complaints from buyers over the years with them having been burnt on past report purchases which translated into reluctance in purchasing in the future. Understandable I suppose but largely avoidable. A few thoughts on what might prevent a bad experience next time.
If your purchase decision is going to be driven largely by cost considerations then you are sabotaging yourself from the start. There are ways to reduce the cost of reports. but if you can’t afford quality data then save your resources for something else.
If you don’t have much to spend but need something, then at least go to market with some aspect of modesty versus a ham handed approach looking to beat vendors into submission. The firms with size or standards won’t work with you and the ones that will likely are selling you stuff you don’t want to base your decisions on.
Negotiating is a part of business, everyone accepts that is will happen on some level or another. However, best to approach the people that write about your company with some professionalism and respect for their work. Low balling someone who has spent years developing knowledge and data sources and works hard to put out quality signals that you don’t value what they do. And while you are basically insulting them your marketing group may very well be trying to message or influence them.
What should you negotiate then? Maybe something on price but more so if you are buying volume. Perhaps you can request a data pull or section of a report, but you should expect to see the $/page/data unit increase. And instead of offering less money, why not ask for more product or even better, time with the analysts who write the reports? That relationship can be leveraged again in the future, at least with smart providers who know how to manage a paying customer.
When you consider a product, how much time are you spending researching the provider? Are you looking at where they are based to try and assess if they are a real firm? Do they have boots on the ground in your market? Or are they a generic or anonymous factory overseas?
What of their branding? Does it look modern, professional and in line with the profession or sector? While it is unreasonable to expect a small practice to spend $15,000 on a website and branding package there are several things that they can do to at least show some level of gravitas and consistency with the market they cover. A poorly designed website, $99 logo or some other low rent aspect should raise an eyebrow unless it is someone with such massive street cred their throwback look simply fits.
Are you able to see the analyst who wrote the report on the website? Can you see other related works? Social media profile? Does their name come up on a search? What conferences are they speaking at? What media sites are carrying them or asking them for comments? Do they write for anyone of note in the sector? I might mention that their presence in company issued news releases doesn’t mean much other than they are perhaps client friendly or offer quotes for business consideration.
Are you able to talk to them, live in person, on the phone or over Skype/GoToMeeting etc.? I strongly suggest an introductory call if you are actually interested in them. Putting a voice and a face to a product helps a great deal as is being able to ask them about their background, relevant experience and overall knowledge so you can establish some level of confidence. This isn’t where you try and wrangle free information from them though. There are ways to establish credentials without asking for free consulting.
Asking to connect with the analyst helps you avoid the factories as well. I will say that not everyone in India is a hack. Some people have put in the time to establish themselves as true analysts. There are a number of talented software engineers, technologists and entrepreneurs operating there and if you want to research that market then you should look at qualified locals. But, a lot of companies are using people fresh out of undergrad programs or at best, 1-2 years of report writing experience and across a variety of subjects. The firms emerge from nowhere and start producing products of low quality and zero market specific context.
Samples are an intelligent request but if you are expecting more than either a few pages to show the product or something wholly unrelated to at least prove they can produce something of high quality…. don’t. I am often bewildered by people who expect a provider to hand over a $5,000 report without first paying for it. The request says a great deal about the person making it in a B2B context.
Ask for forecast tables without numbers to show what and how they are breaking out the data. You can also ask for them to provide previous forecasts and see how they have held up. Look at what they wrote 3-4 years ago and see how things worked out. Look at the logic behind the projections.
Bad data purchases impact the entire ecosystem. Customers don’t trust, good providers find their fortunes impacted and the offenders are rewarded for their efforts. I invite the quality providers to step up their marketing and sales game and for the buyers to exercise some proper due diligence in what they buy.