5 Tips for a Successful Mixed-Method Approach
Posted October 20, 2011by
We don’t live in a one-size-fits-all world. Our businesses reflect that. With a dozen different ways to network, countless ways to shop, and information careening at us from every direction, it’s easy to see why a single method approach to research might not always provide us with the full picture.
ENTER MIXED-METHOD QUALITATIVE.
At Doyle, we specialize in giving you a 360-degree view into your customers’ wants and needs to help you make more informed business decisions. Many times that means selecting multiple paths of inquiry to gather the most comprehensive data. Of course, the right mix isn’t always obvious, so we’ve developed 5 tips to help you make the most of a mixed-method approach, and provide the greatest return on your investment.
1) Clearly define your business objectives and map research methods to them
This seems obvious, but it really can’t be overstated. When you start with your goals in mind, it becomes much easier to determine which methods of inquiry will provide the most useful results, and better meet the stated objectives. By knowing what you need, you can quickly determine how best to proceed.
2) Use research methods that are appropriate to your target
While it’s true one size doesn’t fit all, sometimes even the size doesn’t matter. Be sure you’re taking the time to determine which methods will give you the best responses for a particular audience. In other words, Facebook may not be any more appropriate for polling seniors than bulletin boards would be for engaging pre-schoolers in conversation. Understand who you’re talking to BEFORE you decide how to reach them.
3) Don’t be afraid to start small, ramping up to larger projects
We have a tendency to want it all, and want it NOW. When it comes to qualitative, that’s not always the best way to get meaningful data. Don’t be afraid to engage fewer participants up front to identify key issues before taking the leap into larger-scale (and more expensive) studies. You never know, you just might find what you thought was necessary isn’t even on your customers’ radar.
4) Allow time for methods to fuel and inform each other
Research takes time. Meaningful research, even more so. When engaging in a mixed method approach, it’s important to allow for the studies to be conducted sequentially, and in a logical order that flows from the overall business goals. This will provide valuable information that can be used to steer decisions made in future phases; in some cases, it will inform the nature of the phases themselves.
5) Recruit a “community” of participants and use them throughout your study
We like to think of this as the three Rs of qualitative: recruit the right group of participants early on in your study, reuse those participants in multiple phases, and reduce overall time and project cost by eliminating the need for multiple selection efforts. Call it “the greening of qualitative research.” Whatever you call it, it goes a long way toward saving time, effort, and money.
There’s always room for more information
Sometimes the reasons for using a single method are compelling: time, money, audience needs, specific business objectives. More often than not, however, using more than one approach will provide valuable insights that will magnify the impact to both your customers and your business.
We invite you to contact us to chat about how a mixed-method approach to qualitative can help answer your questions, inform your decisions, and benefit your target audiences.
This content was provided by Doyle Research Associates, Inc. Visit their website at www.doyleresearch.com.