I frequently find myself speaking on the phone to someone who wants to do some great research, but they don't have a budget.They are freaked out when they find out the costs involved, before they even pay the researcher! and who can blame them -- I find the costs a bit of a freak-out myself.
Today I was speaking to a very nice fellow working in a program to help recent immigrants get work in their field -- it happened to be conservation work (i.e. environment) so I wanted to help.
Here is more or less what I suggested to this individual:
- Do the recruiting yourself i.e. arrange to get the right bodies into the room at the right place and time
- Skip the official focus group facility If you're running a single group discussion, and you have few dollars to work with, you don't need it. You need a nice room with a table and some chairs. Or a living room (which is where focus groups started!)
- Live without a report. Take good notes, listen carefully to the moderators's debrief, or record the whole thing and have good notes typed up. Reports take time, and that time is expensive. On a small project, it might not be necessary. Do I value analysis? Of course I do, and some of the best stuff only comes from wringing the source data until it begs for mercy. Do you need this for gathering simple feedback -- no, you don't.
- Treat the researcher's time like it was an audience with the Queen Have a well prepared set of objectives, don't have a lot of meetings, and make it simple for them to help you in an efficient way. That is the only way to keep costs under control. Unfortunately, small projects often work the opposite way -- there is more back and forth, more contact, more revisions, more time spent explaining things.
- Work with someone less experienced Everyone needs to get a start. If you are not creating new positioning for a major brand, you probably don't need massive amounts of experience anyway.
- Finally, if you really have no budget at all, check out methodologies designed for lay people Appreciative Inquiry is my favorite. You will find a lot of great resources online and free about this method, and I think it works quite well. Can a skilled individual use these tools better than an amateur -- well yes, of course.[I'm not a carpenter, but I can still use a power saw. I don't try to make things beyond my skill level I go slow. I read the manual and do exactly what it says.]
My question for the world at large -- how do we help small organizations get the insights they need with the limited resources they have?