In a perfect world, we would have the best information available at our fingertips when making decisions. But, that’s often not the case. While information is more accessible now than at any other time in history, it’s not always the right information. Missing or bad information could mean big mistakes when developing or measuring marketing campaigns. So, to mitigate the risk of missing the mark, many companies explore custom market research. But, accurate, actionable custom research requires knowledge, experience, and dedicated personnel to complete.
In today’s lean corporate environment where internal resources are stretched thin, having a trusted market research partner to help guide and fulfill custom projects quickly is a must. Here’s how ThinkNow can help in five easy steps:
The skills and experience needed to write good custom research questionnaires are often underestimated. The advent of DIY tools has created a sense that anyone can construct an effective market research questionnaire with a few clicks of a mouse. DIY tools are great for low stakes research. But, they are usually too great a risk to take when financial resources or guidance for strategic decisions are at stake.
There’s a reason scholarly journals exist to study the implications of questionnaire format, question order, length, structure, timing, mode, and a myriad of other issues that affect research results. No amount of back-end data manipulation will make up for poorly designed questions. Having professionals write your questionnaires pays for itself in better research results and peace of mind.
Creating representative sample frames is another aspect of market research that is often poorly understood. A good questionnaire can deliver misleading results if the wrong people answered the survey. Ensuring that the right people take the survey involves three factors: designing the sample frame, sourcing the respondents, and managing the quotas in the field. Convenience samples of surveys open to anyone willing to respond will often yield wildly different results than those with well-designed, targeted quotas (a sample frame).
Thorough knowledge of the target respondents’ demographics such as age, income, education, and geographic distribution is needed to ensure respondents match the population being studied. Where respondents are sourced from also matters. Most online research respondents come from panels, but the quality of respondents can vary considerably by source. Professionals know the strengths and weaknesses of the available sample (panelist) sources and which ones to avoid completely. Finally, professional management of a project in the field will ensure timelines are met and quotas are managed so the final composition of respondents matches the plan.
Analyzing data requires the ability to separate significant results from noise. Analysis is not transferring data tables onto PowerPoint slides. Sometimes results look significant but are, in fact, statistically insignificant. Other times, a regression analysis will reveal meaningful relationships among responses that are not immediately obvious. A trained market researcher will distill the most significant results and put together a report that addresses the business need that inspired the research and provides actionable results.
Not every research question requires a 1,000 respondent quantitative survey. Some research questions are better suited for an online discussion board or in-person focus group. Sometimes one or two questions in an omnibus survey make more sense than a stand-alone study. Other times, clients have a fully programmed survey and only need respondents. We’re agnostic when it comes to methodology or size of study. Our guiding principle is to use the methodology that best serves the research and works within the available budget. If trade-offs need to be made, we’re aware of the compromises that can and can’t be made.
Finally, we enjoy working with clients who are themselves, market researchers, as well as with first-timers. Even experienced researchers will often come to us when exploring new demographic segments to ensure they incorporate best practices and avoid costly mistakes. Our research managers take the time to explain the pros and cons of different research methodologies and share insights that go beyond what was in the questionnaire or discussion guide.
Is your company or brand looking for a custom research partner?
Contact us today and let our expert research team help you get the insights you need to stay current in a diversifying world.