But I Don’t Have the Money to Do Research…

Wow, if I just had a dollar for every time I heard that one.  And, when I hear that phrase I think of a saying “penny wise and pound foolish” by Ben Franklin.  Money spent on research that is done right can be worth its weight in gold.  Well, it can save you a lot of money by keeping you from investing in the right things and steering clear of the wrong things anyway. 

But seriously, with market research budgets being the first ones to get slashed or go entirely, we market researchers have to be creative when it comes to getting data. So for those of you who are asked to do less with more, here’s some cost effective ways to do research:

Omnibus/Panels/Caravans—I am a big fan of the ORC’s small business panel and their consumer CARAVANs. I know that there are other panels out there, but I stick with what works for me.  For those who haven’t used these, the basic premise is you buy questions on a regularly scheduled survey.  There are many different people asking questions on the survey.  You pay for each question, except for the normal demographics/firmographics asked on the survey.  And, you only get the data from your questions.

It costs less than a regular study and there is very little work on the client’s end.  The vendor will even help you craft the questions, as long as you give them something to start with.  These types of studies occur frequently (some times as often as twice a week) and you can usually get your questions answered in a short amount of time.  For instance, ORC provides you with data the next day after the survey closes.  How’s that for fast service!

  • When to use it:  When you really only need the answer to a couple of questions.  If you have more than 10 questions, you need to do your own custom study.

Free E-mail Surveys—Okay I am not really a fan of e-mail based surveys, as my prior blogs will show.  That being said, there is a time and a place for them.  I have used the free and the monthly fee based e-mail surveying platform Survey Monkey and I did get my money’s worth.  Remember Survey Monkey is only free up to 10 questions.  So the free part is really limiting. 

  • When to use it:    I really only use this type of interviewing platform when I have a known audience, good e-mail addresses and where I don’t need to do any segmented analysis on the data.  I use this type of survey platform for internal surveys, like presentation/meeting evaluations and/or departmental evaluations.

 Online Surveying Platforms—On the surface these platforms look like Survey Monkey, but oh how different they are.  There are many online surveying platform providers.  I happen to really like the one done by Decipher.  That’s because Decipher’s platform is relatively in expensive and it is very easy to do reporting from Decipher’s platform.  You can easily do segmentation on your data as well and export it into Word, Excel or Power Point. 

  • When to use it:  I tend to focus these surveys on customers rather than non-customers. This type of survey platform is great for employee surveys when you need to segment your data by office location, years of service or some other kind of independent variable.

So in a pinch, there ways you can do more with less.  I will talk tomorrow about getting more value out the data you have already collected.

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