Do you remember the game show “Family Feud”? For whatever reason that token phrase: “and the survey says:” came to mind this morning and it must be because we are involved in a few research projects at present.
Here are a few (5) things that we are keeping top of mind as we wade through the information gathered in qualitative research looking to draw out those key insights that will form the basis of solid strategies:
1. Common themes: common themes reveal the ideas and understandings that are at the route of how your organization is perceived by stakeholders (internal or external) and ultimately the areas where you will want to look to affect change or maintain awareness as the case may be. Of particular interest are the common themes that reoccur across the various audience groups as they reveal a definite attribute of your brand profile or experience whether intended or not.
2. Real experiences: stories about how end users have been affected by your organization or more importantly stories about their journey with you provide insight about emotions, needs, and barriers that can become future criteria for measurement of success or KPIs (key performance indicators).
3. Question areas: even with a scripted interview questionnaire deck, conversations with stakeholders and participants vary greatly from interview to interview. As an initial exercise we look to summarize what we heard an interviewee say in each of the various question areas as opposed to comparing question to question as you would in quantitative research.
4. Objectives to inform: before we even begin to conduct research, we’ve nailed down the intelligence we are seeking. We ask ourselves: what do we want to know and how will that information influence or validate current thinking. We play out “what if” scenarios to cover all angles in our questioning and then ensure we keep an open mind in case the results are opposite any of the pre-research hypotheses. Within the research material, we are looking for commentary, insights, and examples that answer the research objectives (not necessarily just the questions!).
5. Great quotes: quotes help personalize (without revealing the true identity of any individual interviewee or participant) the findings and really help to reinforce insights, conclusions, and recommendations. We actively try to capture quotes as we conduct the interviews and/or listen to the recordings of our sessions to pull out quotes specifically for the purpose of supporting the research findings. They can also be leveraged for future development of creative or copywriting as they are raw, instinctual statements that often carry a lot of meaning.
The opportunity for follow-up quantitative work, if a project warrants it, allows us to validate findings with larger sample sizes and then also helps to solidify branding, and other types of decision making.
Organizations who use research in some capacity to inform their marketing and communication strategies do so not just to make a case, but because they see value in how the findings of research shape, influence or redirect initial thinking and/or contribute to the development of brand experiences, storytelling, and/or creative.