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TJ Tedesco

View from Mount Olympus

By TJ Tedesco

About TJ

T.J. is team leader of Grow Sales, Inc., a marketing and social media services company operating at the intersection of compelling content, clear vision and quality communication practices. In this blog, fire is a metaphor for print. Hang on, this ride will be weird...

Prometheus crept into Mt. Olympus, stole fire, returned to the lowlands, ran from house to house distributing it, got caught, was chained to a rock, lost his liver to a huge ugly bird and was rescued by Hercules. Leveraging his fame, Prometheus started Fire Enterprises Inc.  (FEI). Since fire was the hottest technology of the time, company success came fast and furious. Two generations later, fire isn't such an easy sale. Now led by Prometheus' grandson Org, FEI's growth is non-existent, competitors are pounding and prices are in the toilet.
 

The Tribe Discovers Two Effective Survey Contact Methods

 
Last week, the FEI tribe learned why surveys can be important market research tools. This week, Marka and the tribe discuss the advantages and disadvantages of two possible methods for contacting potential survey respondents. Remember, fire = print.

“Now that we’ve determined our survey’s content and form, how should we contact our potential respondents?” Marka asked.

“Why does that matter?” Zoot replied.

“In marketing, the means by which we communicate with our target market matters,” Marka explained. “Some prospects will respond to an O-mailer, some to a broadcast mail, and some to a social media post. Contacting potential survey respondents is similar in this respect. Our survey response rates will likely be dependent on the vehicle used to contact potential respondents. We may want to try a combination of contact methods to determine which are most effective.”

“Cost should also be considered,” added Numo. “Some methods—like online surveys—will have lower distribution costs than others.”

“Very true,” Marka said. “Here are two survey contact methods we might consider.” Marka approached the whiteboard and began scribbling.

Mail Questionnaire

“The mail questionnaire is a good way to reach people who would not give personal interviews or whose responses might be biased or distorted by the interviewers,” Marka explained.

“Cons?” Org asked.

“The response rate is often low,” Marka said. “Several studies have found that response rates for mailed surveys average between 28-31 percent, compared to 39 pecent with phone surveys.”
 
Numo rubbed his thumb and forefinger together.

“Our fingers will get sore from preparing the mailings?” Zoot asked.

“Cost,” Numo clarified. “Admittedly, though, there are many ways to achieve postal savings on our mailed surveys through drop-shipping programs, address verification software and other tactics.”

Marka scribbled more:

Telephone Interview

“Phone interviewing is a good method for gathering information quickly,” Marka noted. “Another advantage of phone interviewing is that the interviewer can clarify or give further explanation on questions as needed. As was just pointed out, phone surveys tend to have higher response rates than mailed ones.”

 “Disadvantages?” Org asked.

“People generally don’t like being contacted by telemarketers for survey purposes, especially in their home,” Marka said. “In fact, a recent survey of almost 5,000 people ranked telemarketing as the most annoying of 32 annoying events. Before beginning a phone interview program, we should weigh the pros of greater response rates vs. the cons of possible damage to the FEI brand.”

Marka put her whiteboard away. “Next week, we’ll discuss the benefits and drawbacks of two more survey method options.”

Today’s FIRE! Point
The response rates of your survey will likely vary with the vehicle you use to contact potential respondents. Consider trying a combination of survey contact methods to determine which are most effective.

Though the mail questionnaire is a good way to reach people who would not give personal interviews or whose responses might be biased or distorted by the interviewers, the response rate is usually lower and/or slower than other methods.

Phone interviewing is a good method for gathering information quickly and allows the interviewer to clarify or give further explanation on questions as needed, but surveys must be relatively short, as there’s a limit to how long most people will stay on the phone with an anonymous surveyor.

FIRE! in Action
Innovative Market Research Drives Sales Growth for Industrial Design Firm

IDEO undertakes a variety of innovative market research methods, including “behavior mapping,” “shop-alongs” and “camera journals,” in which the consumer records his or her perception of a product through photos. IDEO’s novel market research approach helped drive $70 million of revenue in 2005.

Next week: Marka discusses the different advantages and disadvantages of two more survey contact methods.
 

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