As a new year rolls in, I always take the time to look at my skill set as a moderator and trainer and ask myself, what should I know about new tools and techniques in my industry? I ask questions like: Is there new software to help market researchers be more effective as report writers? Has Twitter finally found a home in qualitative research? Are online groups on the rise or have we returned to traditional groups as an effective tool? Should I be taking courses to learn new skills to apply to my work as a moderator?
I am a long time risk-taker – you have to be to own a successful business for more than three decades. This year will mark 49 years as a researcher and I have acquired tried and true techniques and tools, but that does not mean I don’t like new things. I like new stuff! I like the idea of shaking up old ideas and stirring in new things but long ago, I realized that just because something is new, does not make it better.
The title of this blog “Aged is Good – New is Good, One is not Better” is very relevant in the world of market research. Every qualitative researcher has an arsenal of proven tools and techniques they use. Here are some proven techniques I continue to use that never go out of style:
- Creating rapport with ease and humor and including an “emotional handshake” as part of the process
- Using UPR [Unconditional Positive Regard] – early and often
- Always probing positive elements before negative ones
- A moderator who “eats the guide and burps the questions” – knowing the guide cold so that the process is more like a conversation than an exercise in grilling
- Using alpha scales [A/B/C/D/F] rather than numeric ratings – 1-5 scales for voting on preferences
- Understanding that questions should be aimed to collect information from both auditory and visual representational systems of respondents and not only the representational system of the moderator
- Varying tasks from “I-ASK-YOU-ANSWER” every 15-20 minutes
- Make sure moderator is not glued to seat for entire interview – nor stands at the easel the whole time either – but balances rising and sitting time with respondents
As I mentioned earlier I have always been a fan of new ideas, especially those that can make my job as a researcher and trainer easier. Over the last few years there have been numerous new ideas, techniques and tools. Many of these new tools and techniques have allowed researchers new ways to get below top of mind in QRE’s and simply conduct better research. Here are a few:
- Allowing teens to text answers to a moderator in triads or small focus groups– giving “secret pooling” a new outlet
- Letting respondents take photos on their cell phones and send pictures to a website to be collected by researchers and turned into collages prior to meeting with a moderator
- Using software to turn research findings into mind-maps to report data in different ways
- Using social media in different ways to access a variety of responses from a variety of respondent types
- Using online and bulletin board sessions in new venues to round out insights from hard to reach respondents
- Reporting findings to clients using webinar platforms rather than flying to corporate headquarters to make reports
Aged is good and new is good – one is not better – both are relevant for the world of market research. What’s new in your world and what’s a trusted item from the past? Write to firstname.lastname@example.org and give her your thoughts!