RPG Research Catalog

Designing a Research Study

Once you’ve decided to consider conducting research, you need
to ask yourself six important questions:

• What is my study trying to find out?
• Why do I need to know this information?
• When do I need to know this information?
• Who needs to be included in the respondent pool to get the
answers I need?
• Where am I the most likely to reach my potential
• How am I going to conduct the research to obtain the
information I need?

Though these questions might seem simple, they are tremendously important, because they bring the broad idea of “research” into a more narrow focus. They also help to zero in on the information you actually need so that you don’t waste time and resources going after information you don’t.

One common problem in designing research is what we refer to as the “everything but the kitchen sink survey” – asking respondents to go through a battery of questions that cover every conceivable topic related to your business. (It’s a common occurrence to see online surveys, for example, that promise to require just a few minutes to fill out, but which are often loaded down with more questions than anyone would ever want to answer!)

In marketing research, bigger is not necessarily better, and respondents have a limited endurance for being probed and prodded before the quality of their answers begins to degrade. It’s far better to design a study aimed at getting specific information to support a specific decision than to try to find out all of the information that’s simply, “nice to know.”

One of the first things we recommend is taking the time to develop a research purpose statement, a short paragraph with two or three sentences that answers all of the questions above.

For example, the XYZ Company might begin with the idea that “we need to do research to improve our customer service,” but
after thinking about what the research should really ccomplish, management might arrive at a research purpose statement that says:

“Management of the XYZ Company would like to gain a better understanding what customers are experiencing when they go through the XYZ customer service system. XYZ will conduct interviews with customers who have recently used the system to hear their own descriptions of the process. The data collected will be used to identify problems in the customer service experience and to improve procedures and training for customer service personnel.”

Of course, developing a research purpose statement isn’t always so straightforward. Fortunately, you’re not alone -- all you have to do is call The Research & Planning Group! With one or two meetings in your office or over the phone, we can help you design your entire study for free – and get you on the fast track to getting your research program set up and moving! It’s just one of the many services we offer.

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