When conducting market research, aside from selecting the right target audience and research type (such as focus group or email survey), asking the right questions is crucial in receiving quality responses:
1. Your questions should be pointed and as concise as possible
When creating your questions, make a mental distinction between what is essential to know, what would be useful to know and what is unnecessary – keep the former, discard the later and keep the useful to a minimum.
2. Phrase your questions in language your target audience will understand
Not everyone has the technical or industry knowledge you possess. If you ask questions your target audience do not understand, you are giving them a reason to skip the question – relax the grammar, use simple words and employ common language.
3. Start with interesting and engaging questions, and avoid leading questions
If your focus group or email survey begins with threatening or difficult questions, your audience will lose interest very quickly. In order to capture attention, start your research with engaging questions that do not demand a specific response.
4. Put your questions in a logical order
The issues raised in one question can influence how respondents think about subsequent questions. The rule of thumb is to ask a general question and then ask more specific questions.
5. Pre-test your questions
Before conducting your research, send your questions to a few people to ensure that the questions are clear. Multiple perspectives will help you in making sure that your questions are understandable and will inspire quality responses.
The purpose of market research is to gather sufficient information about your business so you can take tangible actions that move your company forward. Asking the right questions, therefore, is the first step in framing out the appropriate actions.
Sandy Huang is the principal of Pinpoint Tactics Business Consulting in Vancouver, BC. She strives to empower small business owners by equipping them with the tools they need to be more competitive and profitable. Sandy also teaches business courses, mentors MBA students, conducts workshops, writes for the Vancouver Observer and Small Business BC, and sits on the board of Burnaby Counselling Group.