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Research to the max

January 16, 2011

It’s been a long time since one of my projects went into a proper research stage (probably says something about marketing budgets coming out of the recession there).  But I’ve now had two solid weeks of nothing but research.

Which is probably good discipline.

As well as getting out there and seeing it in action (and remembering again just why it is such a good idea to see the whites of your audience’s eyes) I’ve been looking at theoretical things too.

Last week I attended a course run by the MRS, all about improving qualitative moderation techniques.

Now this was brilliant.  We learnt about and practiced not only eliciting techniques, but also projectives as well.

This was the first time I’d come across these – not having had any formal research technique training before – and it was an eye-opener.

In basic terms, this was all about getting your group to look at things in a different light – whole brain thinking rather than just getting them to use their analytical ability.

This is a godsend for planners, as far as I could work out, because it helps people to look at the gist of a concept, rather than picking on the details. 

More about understanding how people think and feel, less about picking a particular creative route apart. 

Which probably feeds into a lot of the debate I’ve been reading over at Northern Planner and Dave Trott.  Helping to understand the state of play, providing planners with useful information to help shape directions. 

Rather than saying ‘she shouldn’t have brown hair’ or ‘I don’t like the colour of her dress’ (actual quotes from research groups).

I was reading again the tips for using qual that Emily Reeve wrote for the APG, about using looser stim material to give respondents a chance to use their imagination.  And I think that this is where these techniques might make more sense.

Now, because they are a bit more complicated – mapping exercises, cut and stick, cartoon tests – they take a bit more planning. 

But I’m itching to try them out and see how they work.

Oh, and to read this: Moderating to the Max because I think it will be useful.  But probably best to wait until I’ve finished my last essay.

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