Agile Market Research

Software

Agile development is a growing philosophy, and rightly so.  It offers a clean and simple framework to work independently and within the software team to deliver on a budget and timeline.  Below is a Wikipedia definition for those not familiar with it:

“Agile software development is a group of software development methods based on iterative and incremental development, where requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizingcross-functional teams. It promotes adaptive planning, evolutionary development and delivery, a time-boxed iterative approach, and encourages rapid and flexible response to change. It is a conceptual framework that promotes foreseen interactions throughout the development cycle.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agile_software_development

Marketing

The market research process can also be an iterative and incremental process.  There are milestones where the process seams to stop in the audience’s eyes – for example, when a survey goes out and the respondents only see that one version of what were potentially many iterations.  These milestones are where the company is measured and certainly where a marketer measures much of his or her success.  If the survey was done right way, at the right time and to the right people, it can yield actionable and impactful results to better the brand’s sales.

Here are some first steps to get you on your way to “Agile Market Research”:

  1. Development – Initiate the project by defining goals.
  2. Modeling – Research and follow companies with high market research success.
  3. Methodologies – Define which methods/mediums will work for the target market.
  4. Systems – Create the systems to support these methods (e.g. Hootsuite for Facebook or Twitter, or MailChimp for an e-newsletter blast).
  5. Create – Put the first draft in writing.  This will change many times so don’t put too much pressure on yourself for the perfect wording, number of questions etc.
  6. Feature-driven – By embedding the features which you want to research into your goals, you’ve committed to improve them with the market research feedback.
  7. Open source – Share your first draft with colleagues and people outside of your industry (someone impartial rather than someone like your mother will give more realistic feedback – but I guess that depends on your mother!).
  8. Pragmatism – After your first field test of the market research, bring what you’ve practiced back to the theories of agile development to iterate the next better version of your questions in order to yield even more actionable results; you can always improve.
  9. Unified – The marketing department is not an island.  Make sure these results tie in with the results of the company and of the other departments’ individual goals for the most shareholder buy-in.
  10. Scrum – Share the status of the market research with the decision-makers, and identify any potential issues or places for confusion.

Congrats for taking the first step and getting a framework to work within.  Print this page and start today with a few sticky notes of action items for you to do this week.  Baby steps.

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