By Cyndi Pyburn

In a post called “In Defense of Professional Researchers over DIY Research,” Mike D’Abramo impresses that professionally trained researchers strive to conduct research the ‘right way,’ with rigour and precision that can be missed when inexperienced people try to take advantage of DIY approaches. The same is true for questionnaire content. While questionnaire development might look easy, there are a number of key strategies that can make the content, and the resulting insights, far more actionable.

Five strategies include:

  1. Stakeholder input
  2. Knowledge audit
  3. Disruption audit
  4. Summary documentation
  5. Storytelling

Every good questionnaire must begin, obviously, by correctly identifying the research objectives. Oftentimes, people think they share the same opinions only to find out after the fact that each had different interpretations and objectives for the study. Imagine the disappointing results! Getting key stakeholders together in a room ahead of time to facilitate the desired study outputs will go a long way to ensure great question content is developed and actionable insights can be unearthed.

No one wants to waste money funding research that doesn’t provide new information or insight. Too often, studies are commissioned without consideration of past brand research or secondary research from other sources. The addition of new team members or instructions to get data quickly rather than answers carefully can easily lead to unnecessary research. As such, a knowledge audit can result in an overview of the foundational learnings that already exist and help the team discover information gaps. There is no point in re-asking the same information, especially if that information was gathered in the last few months. In some cases, planning ahead like this can even turn out to be a great way to save money.

Depending on the objectives, a disruption audit can ignite future thinking and provide fodder to fuel the discussion on how, for example, to grow a brand, provide new claims, or test concept likability and acceptance. In fact, inputs from the disruption audit could easily become a questionnaire outline and make development more organized and much easier.

To get alignment from key stakeholders on a questionnaire, create a summary document of the information that the questionnaire will address. This instantly makes the questionnaire more user-friendly and ensures that every topic is incorporated. By including the question, question intent, and category, questionnaire review for team members and approval from leadership will be easier and more efficient.

Lastly, know the story you want to tell once you have the research results in hand. This story will help the team envision the outputs and ROI of their investment. Planning for and knowing this upfront will help to ensure that the research is actioned on and not shelved with other vague and nonspecific reports.