Welcome back. You might be wondering, what makes up a research plan or proposal? And that is a great question. There are several parts typically included and I'll introduce and explain each one in turn. This lesson is a big one. So we have separated it into two parts. At the end of these lessons, you'll be able to identify the various parts of our research plan or proposal and be able to develop and compose one of your own. Let's begin with the title page. The title page is the first thing that a potential client sees. It won't necessarily win the project but it's important. It's the cover serving as a formal salutation or introduction to your proposal. It's an opportunity to keep your brand up front. Some research companies reframe the objective into a phrase or tagline to summarize the business objective to something snappy and catchy. Your title page can use graphics and color to add style. All these combine to make the title page more compelling. You cannot underestimate the potential or power of a well laid out title page. Even though it's a simple thing, it has the opportunity to be memorable. It's not unlike a book cover and as we know, many people do judge books by their covers. Consider the same for your proposal. Next, is the overview, problem statement, or situation. This can be as short as a paragraph but probably no longer than a page. It states the problem with bulleted objectives beneath. This is where you demonstrate that you understand what the client needs. You recount back to them what they want you to do for them. Some research firms will restate the RFP requirements almost word for word. They just cut and paste it right back in and call that the overview of the problem statement. I don't always think that is the best approach. I see this section as more of a business dialogue or relationship that happens where there is conversation. I see it as an opportunity to perceive the customer situation and say, I heard you, and then summarize what's important. In this section, I communicate back to the client a statement of my own understanding of the situation. It's more than mirroring. It's an opportunity to see if the potential client agrees or disagrees with your perception of their situation. It's the first part of the story. In this section, you're letting them know that you understand what they need. But it's also a checkpoint to make sure that you do understand. In my exchanges that I've had with potential clients, most people get this 95 percent of the time. But the five percent might say, "No, Jim. I don't think you've got it quite the way we want it. It isn't about this. It's about that". This section can present an opportunity for clarity as well. Yes, you may have to go back and forth and rewrite your proposal for them but that can be an essential point of entry into the business relationship. The overview, problem statement, or situation is where you ensure agreement. The secondary or desk research summary is, typically, the next part of the proposal. It's also where internal research plays into the story. You've heard the client. Now you get to start hearing from the marketplace a little bit. That's what the secondary research part of it is. It's your opportunity to take the client's business problem, lay it out but then also say, "Hey this is where it sits in our ecosystem or where it sits in the world". You've understood the situation a little bit more broadly now. You understand the market or the product of the environment a little better. This section is where you say what's going on there. For example, we understand that we want to develop a new product for the accounting field. This is how many accounts there are in your market, these are the things that they're struggling with or you have 17 competitors in your region. Our secondary research found out that accountants make up X, Y, and Z and have certain qualities. Some people would just take the objective and direction from the client. The client may say, "I want a customer satisfaction survey." And they deliver a customer satisfaction survey without much focus on secondary or desk research. However, this is an opportunity to say, I've got other data points which will help me shape what the next step of research could be. Or the secondary internal and desk research we've done is going to help shape interpretation of what the research will likely demonstrate later on. This is typically big picture and situational. It's also your opportunity to provide guidance. You're saying to the potential client, yes you told me that all is not well or that there's an opportunity in front of you. However, this section is where you say, that there are going to be issues and challenges in the marketplace. This is where you report what you're initially seeing and that you need to learn more from it. The secondary or desk research summary helps better frame the situation and fill in some of the details. Given the problem or situation and information you have, you also consider what you don't have. That leads you down the path of needing more or the research plan. The next section is the methodology or research plan itself. This is where the science comes in. All the set up and framing has happened. What processes and methods would you recommend given the situation resources and constraints? What methods would you recommend to fill in the gaps in information? The methodology section could be as short as a page or as long as three to five pages, maybe even 10 pages long. I've seen government proposals where the market research section is laid out where there's a great deal of detail around methodology, sampling, pros and cons, how they're going to analyze data, and so forth. There is a lot that can be discussed in this section and it could be very long. However, most of what I see here is typically no more than a few pages. This is where you're outlining who are you going to research and what tool are you going to use to research them on a primary basis. You are delineating how are you going to do research. What questions are you going to ask them? And, ultimately, how are you going to start to analyze the data or prepare it for analysis. The methodology section can be the make or break section of the proposal. It brings in the science that best addresses the situation and also the rationale for a specific research approach. If it is a primary research approach, the methodology section will detail out what approach is being recommended and what the steps are in the process. It is often done so in a way that takes into account secondary and internal research and puts it into context of constraints in the original business problem or objective. The methodology section needs to have a clear rationale as to what is going to be done next and why it is important. The potential client needs to see that it's a good approach or as good of an approach that is possible given the constraints and objectives. There are a lot of ways to lay out the methodology section. The lay out could be a series of bullets. It could be a table with milestones in it. It could also be a flow chart or other chart to depict this is what happens, and this is what follows, or this is what happens that will be parallel to other research events. Whatever layout you choose, it needs to illustrate your methodology clearly. That completes the first part of this lesson on the component parts. We'll cover the rest in the next lesson.