The Key to Writing Marketing Research Proposals Just Like a Pro

Nailing your marketing proposals for research and possible campaigns

by Rod Dunne on March 21, 2011

in Creative, Marketing

A marketing research proposal is a document used in marketing departments in order to propose specific research for approval with senior management. You’ll find it is a key document in companies where project accountability is important. And in this post I’ll show you how you can write the best proposal possible.

Marketing research proposals can be used for direct marketing campaigns, an internet/social-media marketing plan as well as traditional advertising and marketing channels (e.g. conferences, print, TV, etc.).

Objectives of a marketing research proposal

Your standard proposal document details the body of research which the marketing team wish to undertake and is used by senior management to make a go/no-go decision on whether financial and resourcing approvals should be given to this research. Especially important is the effect to your branding and status in the economic environment.

The main objectives of the market research proposal are:

  • Why is this research important? What benefits do you and your marketing team expect to unearth through this work? What are the principal findings to expect and objectives?
  • What methods will you use for doing the research?
  • Will traditional off-line surveys or web-based market research surveys be used?
  • How long will the work take you?
  • How much will this cost in monetary as well as resourcing demands? Who will be involved apart from yourself?

Planning a market research proposal

It is worth using a marketing research proposal example (see below) as a baseline for the template structure. However, before one word is written down or altered in a market research proposal document you need to clarify to yourself & the proposed researchers each of the objectives listed above.

  • You need to have a clear picture for why the work is being done in order to complete the executive summary section of your document.
  • You at least need to have an initial understanding of how the information is going to be obtained during the study (i.e. what methods) and therefore the cost of such surveys, etc. This should include an understanding of what demographics and specific customer segments you want to target.

Sample marketing research proposal structure

Most marketing research proposals follow a fairly standard structure which is in line with other forms of project proposals. Traditional marketing plan templates and examples can be used as a starting point. You should always customize actual copy text for your own industry and market research work that you wish to pursue.

The executive summary should be left until last to complete as it provides an overview of the entire document. Likewise, any summations or recommendations should be completed after all other sections are done as they may encapsulate some of the details within the document.

The basic structure should be as follows:

  • Executive summary – Overview of who will complete the work, when, by what means and what the objectives of this research will be.
  • Preamble/background – Detail any previous research that has been completed in relation to this work, whether in-house or at university level.
  • Objectives - Explicitly define the goal(s) of this work in fine detail. Any statistical information can be included as part of an appendices.
  • Research approach/methods/data analysis – Define what sort of research methods will be used, the reasoning for using these approaches and any types of data analysis that are planned. Explicitly declare if these are based on previous techniques to validate and corroborate the benefits of these methods.
  • Reporting expectations – Provide a schedule of reporting timelines upon which findings and progress will be communicated. Include details of stakeholders, reporting channels and reporting structure. It should also include any details of project change management procedures  should research have to be altered or dropped mid-process.
  • Estimated costings and timing for all staff and resourcing – Specify actual cost of research done as part of your sample marketing research proposal. Detail the number of staff you’re going to be required along with the dates on which they should be assigned to this work. Clarify if this conflicts with any of their other duties.
  • Summary and recommendations – All proposals can be undertaken using specific research methods or potential avenues, each of which will have their own budgetary cost. Summarize what your recommendations are for a single proposed research type along with the actual justifications.

Author Rod Dunne...

Blog owner and sole writer Rod DunneI am the owner and sole writer on This is my personal blog detailing troubleshooting tips for small businesses. Posts are based upon 2 decades in consultancy & innovation management within startups/maturing companies.

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