5 Tips for Planning Your Research Reporting Adventure


When I’m planning a trip, my plans are made far in advance. I want to avoid any unpleasant surprises. There are usually so many details that even if only a few are overlooked, it could spoil my trip.

Marketing Research Report Advice

I’m a list person, so as soon as I start planning, I create an Excel file with a few spreadsheets highlighting the details I need to keep in mind for my trip. I need to know exactly where we are going, what our budget is, what to pack, what activities we will be doing, what reservations to make, and who to notify about the plans. Detailed planning helps ensure my trip will run smoothly and greatly increases the odds of having an enjoyable travel experience.

Writing a research report requires that same amount of planning and attention to detail to ensure that the reporting experience goes smoothly and that it results in a deliverable with actionable insights.

Consider these tips to help you plan your next big adventure in research reporting.


Define your report by writing out a report plan.

Yogi Berra said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” So, decide where you are going with your research.

  • Identify the survey questions that will answer your client’s research objectives.
  • Determine the big picture. Plan which consumer targets and demographics to report on to highlight your client’s interest.

Set a limit on the amount of reporting you can afford.

Time is money. How much time do you have budgeted for reporting?

  • Establish expectations in your research proposal for the size of the report. How many slides can you produce and still remain within your reporting budget?
  • Planning the size of the report is a great step to ensure that you think about what you really need, and it helps to prevent redundancy.

Plan the activities.

Create a reporting timeline.

  • Set up a timeline for the milestones of the reporting phases, such as creating PowerPoint charts or setting up automated reporting, writing findings, proofreading, internal reviews, and delivery to the client.
  • Make sure to build in time for delays and distractions. Stay ahead of the timeline.
  • Book the time for these milestones with your research partners, and make sure to include time for a presentation with the client or stakeholder.

Pack the essentials.

Don’t overpack your research report.

  • Plan for automation and dashboarding when possible.
  • You don’t usually need to report on every question by each quota group and demographic. Every question and data cut can be included in your tabulation banner. When possible, plan to analyze and report by the cuts of data that are most important to your client and those that answer key research questions.
  • When analyzing results, you might uncover significant differences in other data cuts. If this is information your client will appreciate, you can use callouts or add alternative slides in the report appendix for these other groups.
  • Create a research summary within your report that can be used in a presentation for the client. Pack it with essential details that answer the client’s or stakeholder’s objectives.

Tell someone about your plan.

Tell someone about your plan. It’s always a good idea to have a second set of eyes on your plans for reporting before you get started. Two minds are often better than one when strategizing innovative ways to present research.

  • Collaborate with your colleagues.
  • Be prepared to be flexible. Chances are good that a team member who is familiar with your research project will have suggestions or ideas you didn’t think of.

Envisioning and planning the details before you create the first slide in your report will help you arrive where you want to be, with a well-structured, actionable research report. Now, let’s go plan your next research reporting adventure!


Maria Garza

Maria Garza

Senior Research Analyst

Maria has more than 30 years of marketing research experience. She has been with Decision Analyst’s Client Service staff since 2002. Maria manages projects for several major clients. She has experience in both consumer and business-to-business research, spanning such industries as retail, durable goods, fast-moving consumer goods, restaurants, and media.

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