Our Vendor Assessment Checklist

We provide a more detailed checklist in Chapter 21 of Neuromarketing for Dummies. But asking the following six questions will get you a long way toward making a good decision about selecting a neuromarketing partner.

Six Questions to Ask a Prospective Neuromarketing Vendor

One question we are frequently asked is: "how do I assess the qualifications of neuromarketing vendors?" We have come up with this six question checklist that we believe will help separate the wheat from the chaff.

1. How much experience do your primary researchers have in neuroscience, experimental psychology, and marketing fields?

Request CVs or resumes of all principals.  Ask specifically about direct scientific experience. 

  • Are the principal scientists trained and certified in neuroscience and/or experimental psychology techniques? 
  • For neuroscience experts, are they PhD neuroscientists or practicing physicians specializing in neurology?
  • Do they have a publication record of academic research in leading journals? 
  • Do they have a publication record dealing specifically with consumer or marketing research subject matter?
2. How directly involved are your senior neuroscientists in developing and delivering my research projects?

Experienced neuroscientists and experimental psychologists need to be active participants in research projects, not just figureheads.  Question the vendor closely about how scientists are involved in your projects.

  • Do they design the experimental protocols and procedures?
  • Do they work directly with you in defining needs?
  • Do they provide education to help you understand how and why the science works?
  • Do they participate in data collection, data analysis and preparation of findings?
3. Will I be able to speak to your leading scientists directly and regularly?

It is always useful to request direct phone calls with members of the scientific team.  Ask them how and when they will be available to participate in your project, and how they will be involved in the oversight and production of your deliverables.

4. Can you show me how your techniques are related to established neuroscience literature?

There is a vast literature in neuroscience, psychology, and behavioral economics with direct relevance to the needs of advertisers and marketers.  Your vendor should not only be intimately familiar with this literature, they should also be able to show you precisely how and where the techniques they employ are derived from established research models.

5. Are your experimental techniques approved by an Independent Review Board (IRB) for proper treatment of Human Subjects?

IRB approval is not required for commercial research vendors, but it is a strong indicator of serious commitment to ethical research practices. It is important for a number of reasons:

  • It can only be attained thorough review by independent scientific, medical, and community professionals.
  • It encompasses a complete evaluation of a project’s design, protocols, subject recruiting practices, confidentiality practices, facilities, and investigator credentials.
  • Faculty members at U.S colleges and universities cannot participate in any research, even outside the institution, if it is not covered by an IRB approval.
  • Both the research vendor and the sponsoring client may be held liable for Human Subjects treatment violations that might arise in the absence of IRB approval.

Be aware that IRB approval is more than just getting “informed consent” from research subjects. Find out if your vendor’s research is covered by an IRB. Ask for the name and phone number of the vendor’s IRB and contact them directly to verify.

6. Can we speak directly with any reference customers for whom your company has provided services?

It is true that some customers prefer to remain anonymous, but most neuromarketing vendors cultivate and rely on reference accounts to convince later customers to give them a try.

Request direct phone calls with at least one reference customer who can vouch for the vendor and the quality of their work.  Ask to call the reference yourself, rather than have teh reference call you.