1. Know your objectives. Clarity on the purpose and desired outcome of the research will lead to better, more efficient study design. Ask yourself these questions:
- How will findings be used, and by what audience? (Senior management? Ad agency?)
- What business decision need to be made as a result of this research?
- What are the three key questions this research needs to answer?
2. Establish a budget. Then communicate that budget to a trusted qualitative partner, so they can provide you with options for meeting your research objectives that stay within your budget.
3. Choose the right method(s). Maximize the value of the dollars you spend by working with your qualitative partner to select the right method or combination of methods to suit your business objectives, budget and timing. For example:
- Is geography important? If so, an online method might be an efficient option. Conducting research online allows you to recruit a geographic mix of respondents for a single group, eliminating the need to conduct research in multiple markets. It also eliminates all travel expenses, and reduces out of office staff time.
- Is the topic sensitive? If so, will being in a group setting encourage disclosure or discourage it? If the latter, consider IDIs.
- Do you want to capture “in the moment” reactions? Rather than asking respondents to recall them in a scheduled interview, consider mobile.
- Is the topic one that is discussed heavily in social media? Consider a social media research study, either as a stand-alone study, or as a precursor or supplement to other qualitative.
4. Be realistic about screening requirements. The price of a recruit is based on the difficulty of the specifications, as well as the time it takes to administer a screener over the phone. Screen only on the most essential criteria to meet your research objectives. Are you really looking for that one blue-eyed/one green-eyed person? “Needles in a haystack” will cost you time and money and you really have to ask yourself if you intend to market to such a narrow target group.
5. Recruit high quality respondents. Once you know exactly whom you wish to recruit, HOW they are recruited can make the difference between a mediocre project and a great one. Some things you should expect from a good field manager:
- It is becoming increasingly common for respondents to be recruited via social media. Your field manager should know what is being posted, and where, to ensure a proper recruit.
- If the facility is sending an email to their database to narrow the field (another common practice,) make sure your field manager is asking to approve that email to ensure that it is not leading.
- We recommend that online screening be viewed as a preliminary screen, and that all respondents also be screened via phone to verify that they meet the detailed screening requirements. This practice improves the quality of the recruit as well as the show rate.
In Part 2: Staying on Track, we will explore additional ways to add value and/or control costs when you conduct a qualitative research project.