As a marketer, a large part of your job is understanding the customer and one of the key means of doing that is conducting marketing research. If you have any level of training and experience it’s highly likely you’ve been intimately involved in this process.
Whether you’re a graduate marketing executive or a CMO, more than once in your career you will probably have briefed research agencies, sat in focus groups and/or ploughed through decks of resulting data. You might also have written research surveys yourself.
Yet even if you know the research industry inside-out, can you say that you know what it feels like from the point of view of the research subject?
While you can obviously talk to in-house research specialists and agency partners to keep up with changes in methodology, one of the easiest and most effective ways to understand how people actually engage with surveys is to become a research subject yourself.
Doing so can help give you a more market-orientated viewpoint, so you can start to see how the way questions are written influences the answers collected. Are you getting confused by a question’s phrasing? Are the answer options ambiguous or unduly restrictive? Are you so bored of matrix grids that you start making random selections?
Having first-hand experience of these issues can help you realise where your own research methodology might be working against you. It can help you spot the biases in your own questions, the flaws in your use of language and where you have been overly ambitious in the detail you’ve tried to go into. It can also give you context for how research companies gather some of the insights they then sell on to you.
Most big research providers have panels open to public registration, which will send email notifications when surveys are available. The surveys themselves usually take between five and 20 minutes to complete, so you should easily fit one or two into your commute.