The research proposal

Having briefed three research agencies, what can be expected from them by way of a research proposal? In the first instance, the proposal should arrive by the agreed deadline. The proposal should be in writing, so that it is absolutely clear both to the client and to the agency what is being promised. It should demonstrate that the quoting agency has a good understanding of the problem. Most importantly, the research proposal should be a detailed specification of exactly what the agency is planning to do for the money it is asking.

In general, it is unreasonable to expect that the research agency will have done a great deal of work on the problem at this stage, because they do not know whether or not they are going to get the job. However, if the agency is worth its salt (and the client's money) it should have put in enough work to demonstrate in the proposal that it is quite clear about what is expected and is competent to deliver that efficiently.

It is not usual for agencies to charge clients for producing research proposals, but members of the British Market Research Association (BMRA) have a policy of asking clients how many agencies are being asked to write proposals. If it is more than three agencies then BMRA members may charge the offending organizations for each proposal produced. This is an attempt to control the activities of client companies who waste time and money by asking for an unreasonably large number of research proposals as a means of obtaining free research advice.

What points should be looked for in a research agency's proposal? Statement of objectives

The first thing to look for is a clearly defined statement of the objectives for the survey. They should reflect those agreed as a result of the briefing procedure and be no more and no less than required by the client. The objectives should be checked for their relevance to the needs of the problem.

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