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Getting thought leadership research right

Five tips from 3Gem

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by Becky Lewis, Insight Consultant, 3Gem

In our first guest post for Spell Communications we looked at how thought leaders can use research most successfully – to gain wider perspectives and so inform innovation and drive genuine change. Here we share our expertise on how to conduct that research so it provides that foundation for authentic thought leadership.

1. Ask the right people

Who do you really want to speak to? Is it the average person on the street or a niche group? Think about this and get it right. You no longer just need to ask your mum, your colleagues, and your kid’s best friend. Research access panels mean you can literally reach anyone in the world. Sometimes you want to speak to the average, and sometimes it is a very specific set of behaviour and attitude criteria.

You can screen people on just about anything which means you don’t have to fall into standard demographic silos of gender and age. Whether it is shopping or media habits, past experiences, future intentions, attitudes, or wanton desires, these are all characteristics you can use to pinpoint people to talk to.

2. Ask the right questions – in the right way

Anyone can write a question, but writing it well, in a language that the respondent understands and that gets you the insight you need is an art. Get someone on board who can design and script a questionnaire well and it becomes a portal into someone’s thought process – maybe a thought process they didn’t even know they had.

Remember too that different audiences have different communication and language needs. Get the language, tone, and communication style right for your target group, and the data and insight will flow freely.

3. Ask enough people

A sample of two is not robust! Ask as many people as you can afford. The bigger the sample the more robust your data and the more perspective you get to back up your hunches and hypothesis.

4. Use technology to go deep

Technology is so embedded in our everyday lives that it can offer research a window into people’s lives and experience journeys. We can understand and investigate pinch points, barriers, and motivations. This view into what people are currently doing and thinking can be a great way to spark concepts for the future.

5. Never forget the need for quality assurance

I don’t just mean GDPR. You do need to get that right, but you also need to be confident your research agency is getting you who they say they are and working with you to get the best quality sample and data you can so that you have reliable and valid insights. This is particularly pertinent for niche audiences. Make sure any agency you use is rewarding their respondents properly, checking who is answering your surveys and is committed to quality standards in the industry.

Get all of this right, and your research will provide you with viewpoints you’d never considered, fresh ideas, and the foundation of your thought leadership.

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