An invitation to discuss the research

A research brief, particularly for a new, important, unusual or complicated survey, should always include an invitation to the research agency to discuss the research. During these discussions the research agency will ask questions to clarify all the points they need to know to carry out a good job. The discussion will be useful in identifying different, and perhaps more effective or cheaper ways of undertaking the research than those which occurred to the client. Discussions with research agencies will be especially helpful to those organizations who have not used a great deal of research in the past. They will learn whether their original written brief has proved adequate in communicating to the research agency exactly what is required. From the questions asked by the agency personnel, the client will learn more about technical problems that may arise and more about what the research will be able to produce in the way of answers to questions. During these discussions the original brief will probably be improved upon. A revised brief should be written, including any changes that have taken place.

The less familiar the client is with research, the more time should be devoted personally to enabling the agency to brief itself through comprehensive discussions with the client. At the conclusion of these discussions it is important for both parties to agree in writing exactly what it is the agency is being asked to do. Client-agency discussions are useful not only in producing a good final brief, but also in giving the client an extended opportunity to assess the ability of the personnel from the research agency to understand the requirements. These discussions are the basis for any subsequent working relationship and from them it should be possible to determine whether the client and the agency personnel are on each other's wavelength. It is important to ensure that good two-way communication can be established at this stage. If the client does not feel that the agency has a clear idea of what is expected of it, then it is quite probable that the work produced will give only approximate answers to the questions set.

In discussions with agency personnel the overriding principles, particularly for the new research user, should be to provide as much relevant marketing information as is available and to be as technically specific about the survey as possible.

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