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How to Research Your Start-Up Business

There’s nothing quite so exciting as a brand new idea to a researcher – a chance to help a fledgling business get off the ground. Unfortunately, the budgets for professional research are not necessarily start-up friendly.

But the wise entrepreneur knows they need the insights to refine their ideas. Because even very skilled marketers have launched failed products. The Nielsen company, who studies this kind of thing, finds an 85% failure rate.

When we are approached by a start-up who wants help but has almost no budget, here are the steps we suggest they consider.

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How to Conduct Research With Introverts

Research methodologies, especially real-time qualitative methods, force introverts to respond too quickly.
One would have to assume that many introverts would not choose to participate in a focus group discussion. Others will go with the plan to spend most of their time listening.
This is not a problem as long as everyone understands they are not recalcitrant or a recruiting error: they are just thinking quietly, and perhaps waiting to be asked for their view.

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Five Ways to Improve Your Qualitative Projects

1. Think small
Qualitative is not projectable. It is about human truths. Think Shakespearean soliloquy: one memorable voice expressing lived experience. A small project is better than no project. A few in-depth interviews are better than many short ones.
You can do iterative or extended communities with smaller numbers. Collaborate with your qualitative specialist and you can figure out clever ways to get things done on a tight budget.

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8 Tips for Do-it-yourself Focus Groups

Running your own focus groups is a bit like doing your own tax return – it all depends on how complicated the job is and the results you want. It’s one thing if your return is simple; another if you have complicated investments.
But clients sometimes ask me for guidance in this area. I generally explain why running focus groups is not as simple as I try to make it look. But I know they are just going to look for advice online.
So if you have to or need to do it, here are some things to consider.

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Do You Really Need a Local Moderator? Pros and Cons

When you are doing multi-country qualitative research in other English-speaking countries, you need to decide if you want to use a local moderator or have the home-country moderator do the work.
As a Canadian-based researcher, I am often asked for referrals by researchers based in the UK or USA who are planning to travel here to conduct the research. Or they may be planning to do the research online from their home location.
There are pros and cons to both approaches. Here’s our take on the issue.

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Co-creation: Sharing Feedback, Honest Communication

It’s my firm belief that co-creation is only happening when there is a genuine feedback loop, not just one-way communication. I’m seeing a lot more evidence of this lately.
Recently the company who provides me with a hosted exchange service sent me a survey – and used the the first page to tell users what actions they have taken to improve service since the prior survey.
It is so startling to actually have a small business tell you these things, that it is noteworthy!

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Getting Defensive: Something That Doesn’t Work Well With Customers or Ideas

It seems that all of our news is dominated these days by partisan politics and scandal. For all of us students of human behavior, we’re getting a real education!
What I am noticing is – the more pressure these folks are under, the worse their behavior becomes. The inclination is to stonewall, to defend, to deny, to attack the persecutors. Poorly thought out announcements are made; managers/leaders who disagree are dismissed.
The irony is, these behaviors are almost exactly the wrong thing.

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The Power of Small Numbers: N=1 Insights

I’m a big believer in the power of insights. Insights come from stories, anecdotes, observations. You might later need to verify or deepen that ah-ha moment. But the individual incident is still important.

When I managed sales people way back in the last century, there was a great saying I learned: “If you see it once, it’s a pattern.”

It’s challenging for us to change our behavior “just once” – it’s more likely that you have stumbled into a pattern worth investigating.

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Yes, Apple Does Research

There’s a myth out there that Apple does not do marketing research. This is nonsense, of course, but it seems to have tremendous staying power.

I saw something today that pretty much proves they conduct research – they might call it product development, or usability, or ergonomic, or whatever, but it’s research into what people want, what they like, what is comfortable for them.

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Good to the Last Drop: 10 Ways to Save Money on Qualitative Research

When you have a constrained research budget – and a long wish list of projects – you probably spend a lot of valuable time wondering how you can wring a little more value from every dollar.

Clients often wonder why good research is so expensive, and qualitative is no exception. Unlike the cost of chip technology, which drops over time, the main components of good qualitative are not dropping, and are not likely to drop any time soon, because they are largely driven by people, not technology.

Here’s the good news – there are 10 good ways to make your dollars go farther.

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