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1 Topic, 5 Blogs: Why market research professionals should embrace DIY Surveys

Posted by Josh Mendelsohn on Mon, Feb 15, 2010

Welcome to this month's issue of 1 topic, 5 blogs. Todays topic is DIY surveys. Links to my fellow bloggers Bernie Malinoff, Joel Rubinson, Annie Petit and Brandon Bertelsen can be found below.

DIY SurveysSince  the day I joined the market research industry a decade ago (and much longer I assume), researchers have been yearning for wider use of market research within organizations and the proverbial "seat at the table."  And while I fully understand and recognize the concerns that MR professionals have about Do IT Yourself surveys like Survey Monkey and Zoomerang, these tools present the much sought after opportunity for research to be more widely adopted and valued in large companies and more widely used in smaller organizations. 

Why are these tools attractive to clients?

One of the driving forces I have seen behind the use of DIY surveys are frustrations with internal and external research organizations.  So before shuddering at the thought of someone who has not been trained as a researcher conducting a survey, ask yourself why they would want to do it themselves.  Because it is faster?  Cheaper?  Less of a hassle?  Is it a simple question? Are they hands on and want to learn new skills?

Then ask how you can help alleviate their concerns and speak to their needs in a way that makes you a more valuable partner.  People like to work with "experts," but not when they make everything more complicated. 

Offer bests practices and support, not guidelines

Since the arrival of effective, low cost (or free) survey tools I have read numerous articles, forums, and blog posts dedicated to setting guidelines around their use.  Of course, the notion of guidelines tells the user of DIY tools that you think they are an idiot and can't be trusted.  Whether intended or not, no professional likes to be told that they can't handle something seemingly simple.

Instead, seek out opportunities to insert yourself in the process by proactively offering support and guidance that essentially says "let me help you help yourself." 

Whether you are a supplier or an internal research department, taking a few minutes from your busy day to review a questionnaire or help someone understand the data can go a long way towards building trust and engagement.   From basic tips like giving questionnaires the "grandmother test" of understanding and including options beyond what you yourself might consider to offering to be an additional pair of eyes to review (not redo) the questionnaire makes you a partner, not a hindrance. 

Embrace change

DIY SurveysAs with our first two 5 blogs, 1 topic posts on Interactive Surveys and Mobile Research, we as an industry have to embrace change, even if that means allowing others to have greater input or setting aside the tools and techniques we grew up on.   As the business world evolves there is more of an opportunity to measure and to use measurement as a change agent within organizations.  Acting as experts and facilitators (instead of naysayers) will keep the value of researchers high and the viability of our profession growing, even if it means non-researchers may write a questionnaire once in a while.

To quote Sting:  "If you love someone (or a particular style of questionnaire design), set them free." 


Read the other blogs:


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Posted by Josh Mendelsohn. Josh is our VP of Marketing and loves live music, pugs, tv, great food, market research, New Orleans, marketing, Boston and sports. You can follow him on Twitter @mendelj2 and at The Better Research Blog



Topics: methodology