Any business that wants to be successful and stay ahead of the competition will engage in basic business research methods. Quantitative research involves information or data in the form of numbers. This allows you to measure or to quantify things such as how many people polled preferred your product over your competitor’s. Qualitative research is not number-oriented, and designed to deepen your understanding about an issue. Qualitative research often explains quantitative research. For example, if 50% of the subjects disliked a test product, then qualitative research digs deeper to find out why.
Here are the basic research methods that every business should use to stay competitive:
- Surveys: Administering surveys to your target audience is done via a questionnaire. The responses are standardized because each respondent answers the exact same questions.
- Interviews: Face-to-face interviews give your subject the opportunity to answer various questions that you deem necessary to get to the bottom of your issue. Your subject can be a prospect, customer or an expert in a particular field. The downside of face-to-face interviews is that it takes considerable time and energy.
- Focus groups: Focus groups involve gathering two or more individuals to ask them questions. The group is guided by a facilitator who proposes prepared questions. The responses are often open and honest, and the participants are encouraged to explore the issues out loud.
- Case studies: Case studies can be about one or more people’s experience toward a particular situation. It tells a specific story that is often presented in a very animated way so that the reader can almost imagine themselves there. Case studies can be stand-alone research pieces, or several case studies can be compared or analyzed comparatively. Case studies are typically no more than 5 pages long and usually only contain the essential information needed to describe and properly analyze a problem.
- Observation: Observational research can be used to watch the participants in their natural environment (instead of inviting them into a controlled setting like an office). For example, it may involve watching customers enter the store and seeing which direction they walk or watching internet users navigate through a website.
While you may not use all of these methodologies for one research question, you will over the life of your business use all of these methodologies at one time or another. First you need to decide on a research question and then choose which methodology or methodologies will best give you that answer.
Research Optimus can help you define your research question and guide you as to which research methodology will be the most effective. We can perform the research for you, analyze the results, and make recommendations for its application. Talk to our “analyst on hire” today to learn more how we can help you with your research needs.
– Research Optimus