Research is vital to understanding your brand. We almost never work on developing a brand strategy without conducting research. The forms of research can differ from online surveys to personal interviews. At RiechesBaird, we’ve done as little as five interviews for one brand and as many as 80 for another — it all depends on the situation. When each interview can last up to 30 minutes, there is a significant amount of time invested. So, how do you make sure both your time and your participants’ time is well spent?
Here are some typical questions when designing interviews:
• What is the goal of the interview? What value do you hope to get out of them?
• Why do personal interviews instead of online surveys or should you do both?
• When should you conduct an interview?
• How should you integrate your qualitative and quantitative data?
• How should you design your interview methodology?
• How do you maximize the value of your data and effectively report findings?
• As opposed to an online survey, personal interviews allow you to gain a much richer understanding through an investigative and natural discussion.
• You can extensively probe respondents and ask follow up questions that you might not have considered. Often times there is latent information that you would have missed in a survey because you didn’t ask for it.
• You gain much more context when you know more details about your participant’s background and can observe non-verbal cues.
• You have the opportunity to be educated by your interviewee and learn the unique particulars of your client’s business.
• Interviewees have longer attention spans than survey respondents. You can ask more questions and get more answers.
Whether we are studying market perceptions, customer experiences, or internal employee alignment, we always recommend doing qualitative interviews and a quantitative survey. This way you have a rich understanding of underlying causes and motivations, and the confidence behind your conclusions are representative for the entire population.
Concurrently: Surveys and interviews can be used to collect similar data. This is often the best approach for a time-sensitive project. You can then use your interviews to help you interpret your survey results and provide a few unique insights that your survey might have missed.
Survey first: Your survey will give you an overall picture of the subject and allow you to be more focused in your interviews as you probe interviewees for underlying causes. At RiechesBaird, we generally use this approach when we have a strong hypothesis or significant prior knowledge about the subject.
Interviews first: Your answers are only as good as your questions. Surveys require you to have enough knowledge about your topic to design those questions. Doing your interviews first helps you get that information. You can then do a quantitative study to test your hypothesis.
When you begin your interviews, it is useful to start with a loose guide around certain topic areas. For example, on an employee study we might cover topics like:
• Employee background and job function
• Brand perceptions
• Strengths and weaknesses of the company
• Company culture
• Company vision
Once you feel that you have established a general picture of the situation you’re studying, you don’t necessarily need to cover all the topics in each remaining interview. For example, if you see that people’s views are fairly aligned on certain topics, you can begin to narrow your focus on the areas that have more interest or disagreement, or topics where your interviewee might have more expertise.
Reporting and Analysis
By the end of the process, you should have a very clear and rich understanding of your subject and key insights. Now you face the task of summarizing what you learned in hours upon hours of interviews and compiling this nicely into a brief PowerPoint presentation. There are a few Qualitative Data Analytics softwares we use to code typed transcripts. By coding transcripts, it easy to go back and look at the complete picture and extract valuable quotes, instead of manually searching through each transcript. It will also allow you to do basic descriptive statistics on your data, such as the frequency of positive mentions, or the correlation between two themes — bringing some quantitative value to back up your qualitative conclusions.