Volume 19 of Evening Rounds was fantastic. Evi Mustel, owner of the Mustel Group, provided an interesting overview of how market research can effectively supplement communications campaigns. Her presentation was peppered throughout with audience questions and her own experiences working with health care organizations. Here is her presentation file.
According to Evi, market research aids communications because it helps us make plans based on what we know – not what we think we know. Doing so not only helps our campaigns’ effectiveness, but it helps us use resources wisely. Qualitative and quantitative tools help researchers and communicators make informed decisions when designing and evaluating initiatives while also providing the opportunity to include the voice of the “silent majority” before launching a project.
Qualitative research tools help us determine how people feel and are talking about an issue, topic or product. Face-to-face tools are preferred but online methods can be used as well. Their data are useful in helping management hear feedback “right from the horse’s mouth.” They can be helpful when preparing campaigns to solicit donations.
Quantitative research tools, on the other hand, help provide low-barrier methods of collecting data from large numbers of people. The Evening Rounds audience was particularly interested to learn that telephone surveys are still the most popular and effective way to connect with people. Research groups can now access cell phone numbers and phone surveys are better for youth and ethnic populations. They also do not feature declining response rates. They do, however, require interesting questions and engaging interviewers and can be labour intensive. Internet surveys are also popular because they are anonymous, cheaper than telephone polls, and can include visual elements. But they also under-represent ethnic populations and respondents are not randomly selected. Social media and mailouts can be used as well but are not as effective as telephone and online tools.
Evi said that health organizations can use market research to create awareness of themselves as well as their products and messages. For example, one might be interested in determining messaging that motivates parents to have their children immunized. Market research can help find out people’s fears, and then help continually check back in to see if the fears are dissipating. This can be particularly helpful in crisis communications.
Ultimately, organizations such as the Mustel Group can help make sure you’re asking the right questions. Evi says that her team is even available to provide feedback on your questionnaires and strategies (“garbage in, garbage out”), in case there is not room in the budget to fully bring them in to a project.
Oh behalf of everyone who attended Volume 19: thanks, Evi, for telling us about the opportunities and benefits of market research!
If you have questions for Evi, you can contact her at 604-742-2240 or firstname.lastname@example.org.