What are the advantages of qualitative research?
When should I consider using online focus groups? And, when are they not my best choice?
How can I justify research costs in an already tight budget?
In many cases, a tight budget actually warrants research. Those factors that cause a business to tighten its belt are often the same factors that the company should explore in its research. When deciding whether to invest in research, remember:
- What you don’t know can hurt
- Chances are good that your competitors are not guessing
- Decisions based on information rather than hunches tend to be more sound
- It is strategically advantageous to know your “Achilles heel”
- An offensive tact is usually best.
How long does it take to begin and complete a research project?
Of course, it all depends, but here are some time estimates based on the type of research that is done.
- Quantitative, single methodology: 35 days
- Quantitative, multi methodology: 6 to 8 weeks
- Qualitative focus groups: 2 to 6 weeks
- If you have a good working relationship with your research firm, you can probably shorten turnaround times.
How frequently should I conduct research?
This is a common question. There may be specific circumstances that warrant more or less frequent research, but here are our recommendations for common research projects:
Image positioning 18 – 30 months
Needs assessment 30 – 42 months
Customer / patient satisfaction bimonthly / quarterly
Consumer groups 2 – 6 months
Employer / industry 6 – 12 months
Employee / internal 12 – 18 months
Service line development 6 months to 2 years (or more)
How much input will I have in the research process?
How should I use research to drive strategic planning?
How effective and successful can your strategic plan be without definitive, accurate information? Furthermore, how accurate and definitive can the information used in your strategic planning be unless you ask the right questions the right way and analyze the answers to those questions with precision and objectivity? Put simply, research provides the information and data necessary to pinpoint goals worth pursuing and indicates how effective your strategy will be achieving those goals. With that in mind, an investment in market research accomplishes one or more of many goals, including:
- Understanding why a competitor draws more of the market than you
- Knowing which of your services are perceived as most important to your customers
- Knowing customer perceptions when your company develops new products, updates packaging or creates a fresh advertising campaign
- Improving communications within your organization
What tasks and responsibilities will a professional research firm handle for me?
A full service research firm takes responsibility for:
- Sample design
- Survey instrument / discussion guide development
- Research design
- Labor and supervision for data collection and professional interviewing
- Data review and verification
- Statistical program development, analysis and interpretation of collected data
- Documentation of research results
- Formal presentation of research findings
- Reasonable printing, postage and shipping costs associated with the research project
- Guaranteeing project security, confidentiality and accuracy
I hear a lot about telemarketing. Is this the same as marketing research?
What do I receive after the research is complete?
I have never had to use research data. How can I be sure that I will understand it?
I am considering conducting market research, but I'm concerned that survey results will reflect negatively on my performance. How should I approach this?
Research statistics can be manipulated to reflect whatever results are desired. How can I be sure that my results are accurate and objectively represent the truth?
It is, of course, possible to introduce bias and to manipulate data at every level of quantitative research – from the wording of questions on a survey instrument to statistical analysis and interpretation. Even the way in which a simple bar chart is depicted can distort results! As a client, there are a few simple ways to ensure that results are objective.
- Choose a research firm with experience and proven integrity. The research firm’s philosophy and record regarding ethical recruitment of participants, confidentiality and objective analysis should be obvious even from the initial consultation.
- Participate as an active partner with your chosen research firm and stay involved with the process.
- Be an educated consumer of research. Common sense, education and ethics can go a long way toward evaluating information critically—whether that information reaches you as a report from a market research firm or simply from your local news.
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