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A new opportunity has emerged on your small business radar, and it could propel your company in a captivating and profitable direction. It could be a new service or product line, a set of untapped consumers or perhaps -- keep your voice down today -- a potential merger with a smaller competitor.

Before getting too far ahead of yourself, you are aware that it's smart to thoroughly vet this chance by commissioning a market study report. At some point -- probably after your staff has finished gathering the necessary quantitative and qualitative data -- you must set out your expectations for your written document. How you approach this job should get their blood pumping, also.

Issue Three Dictates
If your marketing team is brand new to the job, they are probably going to love your top three directives:

Tell a story. Tell a visual narrative, with lots of graphs and graphs. Keep it brief.
They may not believe they heard you ; after all, you didn't say you would like a market research report, didn't you? And are not most reports , voluminous and yes, sometimes dull products?

Tell them to make no mistake: you anticipate a comprehensive effort that assesses each angle of this new business opportunity. You want the report, as they say, to"see around corners." But there are legitimate reasons that drive your directives.

Tell a Story
The most compelling market study reports tack on a story -- about why that new product or service line holds this claim, why that set of untapped consumers could gain from your offerings or why merger would be a smart investment.

Like all good stories, this one may start with an anecdote or focus on one individual -- the"main character" -- who could function as the ideal customer. Telling the story of your study through his or her eyes, and with plenty of lively quotes, should flow directly into how chasing this new opportunity would advance your business goals. This is a crucial part of the story, also, since the chance would not even be worth considering if it didn't conform with your business plan.

Now, you might wish to share with your employees the expertise of a well-known producer of a men's fragrance that was ready to embark on a marketing campaign -- targeted for men. Then the market research demonstrated that women, not men, make the majority of these buys, and also the finding changed the effort.

Inform a Visual Story
As much of the quantitative information as possible ought to be consigned to charts and graphs in the market study report, not the actual written content. Amounts are easier to read, and evaluate, when they're displayed in a chart instead of tucked into a dense paragraph, where the reader can struggle to translate their meaning.

This point underscores the following reality about market study reports: you may think it's being written to your own benefit and that of your staff. And for today, it could be. Your audience may also include your business accountant and attorney. But some day, if it's appropriate, fresh stakeholders may read the report, too, and charts and graphs will make it easier for them to digest.

Obviously, you can always overdo a fantastic thing. Only relevant graphs and charts -- or those that advance the basic story -- ought to be contained in the body of the market research report . Ancillary information ought to be relegated to the appendix -- which document repository which arrives in the conclusion of a document.

Keep it Brief

By focusing on a compelling story and relying on artwork, your staff must find it easier to address your third party cardinal rule. They should know you will gauge the value of the campaign on its quality, not the number of pages. (It's up to you if you wish to tell them that many market research reports operate from between 10 and 50 pages.) It will also help if they:

Use bullet points whenever they can.
Challenge each paragraph into the relevancy test. To put it differently, if a paragraph doesn't progress the basic narrative, hit it.
Heed Two Other Tips

You will hesitate to call it an"outline," however you need to convey to your employees which the real worth of their report will ride on its organization. So if they don't enjoy the noise of establishing a incremental development of the report, then turn them loose on PowerPoint, which will force the issue (in a good way). In the long run, they might decide this arrangement -- rather than a newspaper report -- is the very best one for their findings.

A section on the study objectives. A section on the study procedures. An executive overview. Detailed findings also, perhaps, the consequences. Told in a dynamic fashion, the fascinating finish ought to get everyone's blood pumping.