We’ve spoken before about the importance of research in an economic downturn, but we also understand that when you don’t have the budget, you don’t have the budget.

So, here are 8 ways you can tackle your research with no, or at least less, budget.

  1. Has your company already conducted similar research? No point in conducting the same research you’ve already paid for.  Ask around and see what is already available in your company. (This probably applies to larger companies more than smaller ones since one department may not always know what another department has already completed.) Even if what you find isn’t exactly what you need, it may reduce the amount of additional research needed.
  2. Has someone else already conducted the research? Maybe your company hasn’t conducted the research, but maybe someone else has and it’s publicly available.  Academic journals, industry publications, and, of course, the Census are all good options.  (As with any secondary data, the source should always be fully vetted to ensure the data is reliable.)
  3. Does someone else also need similar market research? Maybe another department in your company needs a similar study and efforts can be combined.  Or maybe a business or strategic partner is also in need of similar research.  Partnering can be excellent means by which to split costs.
  4. How much do you really need? Research often creates more research as one set of answers leads to another set of questions.  But what is really needed for your decision making?  And what research will be most actionable?  Would fewer interviews or surveys still provide the answer(s) you’re seeking?
  5. What can you do yourself? Assuming you’re not conducting 100 percent of the research in house to start, what steps can you take to save cost?   Some steps such as overall research design and analysis are probably best left for dedicated researchers, but a lot of the intermediary steps could likely be taken on by yourself or your team.  We have worked with clients that have printed and mailed their own surveys, performed data entry, programmed simple online surveys, and even conducted intercept surveys (with a little training by us).
  6. Can any portion of your research be conducted online? While not always possible, or ideal, even a small portion of your research conducted online can save costs.  With many companies (including Corona) conducting mixed mode research, you may be able to get the best of both worlds.
  7. Have you thoroughly planned? Last minute changes can add significant costs.  Confirm your research goals and approach upfront and plan for any likely contingencies.  As they say, “An ounce of prevention, is worth a pound of cure.”
  8. Can you cut overhead? Online meetings, video conferencing, and many other tools allow you to reduce travel and many other related project expenses.  Cut out what doesn’t actually add value to your research.

Will these tips fund all of your research needs?  Probably not.  But it’s a good place to start.

What other ways have you used to save?