“Research. Can I do it myself?”
Of course you can do it yourself. Plenty of people do, and they do it really well.
BUT plenty of people do, and do it really badly.
There are many free online tools that enable you to programme an online survey, distribute it and then present you back with the results in a pretty graph. Those tools are great, they are free, they are easy to use and within minutes you can be asking all the questions you’ve ever wanted to.
Have you properly thought about what you want to find out?
Who are you going to get to complete the survey?
Are you sure you are asking the questions in a non-biased way?
Are you asking the questions that will give you the answers you need?
Are you giving respondents a full set of options to choose from?
What checks are you going to impose so you can be sure that you are speaking to the right people?
How are you going to analyse the data?
How will you know what figures are meaningful?
Let’s compare market research to accountancy. Do you use an accountant?
I do BUT I am great at keeping records, chasing invoices, preparing monthly reports, yearly reports, putting together figures for my tax return. However, I needed someone to guide me initially, to tell me what I could claim as an expense, and even now I need to check with a professional when I’m doing something new. I think market research is the same. It’s easy to write a questionnaire, but you need an expert to ensure that you are asking the right questions in the right way.
In this age of “fake news” do you really want to be the person who says that “80% of people use twitter every day” when you should be saying is that “80% of your twitter followers who saw your post and took your poll said they use twitter every day. And that your total sample size was 5. And one of them was you when you were testing whether the poll was working.”
That said, it isn’t rocket science. With a little guidance you can gather meaningful data which will help you make business decisions, and ultimately increase your profits, although of course if you’d rather outsource the process then there are plenty of researchers who can help you.
There are some instances when it’s more appropriate to use an external research supplier –eg if you are conducting a survey of your employees they are more likely to be honest if they know that their manager won’t be able to read their replies.
Over the next few blogs I’m going to share some tips and advice for putting together a great questionnaire, how to get your data and how to interpret the results.