In the previous post, I talked about how to do a few interviews on your own if you have a need for insights (and who does not need insights?) but no money. It's a common problem for small businesses and start-up businesses.
I do recommend avoiding some kind of high-tech thing in favor of just actually talking to people -- well listening to them mostly.
But, if you want to do this online, there are options. Some are designed for the DIYer, others say they can be used by anyone.
Here are a few that I know about. Not a complete list by any means. (Note that I am talking qualitative here.)
Option 1 -- use a free survey tool but ask only open-ended questions
This is actually a pretty good option. Think in terms of maybe five questions, and give people lots of space to answer. This is not about statistics, this is about using technology to get yourself a mini-qualitative study.(Seriously, forget statistics in this instance, just go for actual insights.)
If you think this sounds feeble, let me tell you that Jackie Huba (yes, that Jackie Huba) used exactly this method to conduct some of the advance planning for the Dell Customer Support Think Tank that I've been telling you about. She had about five questions, all open ended. It was a very effective approach.
Top tips: Be short. Rewrite. Rewrite again. Use plain language. Ask a "big" question. Leave a big space for an answer.
Option 2 -- consider these other tools and resources
There are a few services out there designed to work for the DIY researcher. Full disclosure: I have not used all of these services, and I am not getting paid for this. (Maybe a drink at the next industry conference, she says hopefully?)
You can find a very good directory of online qualitative platforms on the Greenbook site -- the NewQual Directory, as well as lots of good articles about how this stuff works, written by some online experts, Jay Zaltzman and Betsy Leichliter.
Gut Check is a service designed to help you find respondents and complete -- fairly quickly -- small scale projects on fairly narrow topics, like testing an advertising concept. They will help with recruiting participants from their panel, or you can recruit your own. They provide a library of video tutorials and other forms of help.
ITracks is also a platform that provides leading edge professional grade tools to quallies. But they have a package called Reality Check that gives you the ability to do a quick concept test and get responses quickly. It's stripped down, but looks promising.
2020 Research has a suite of online qualitative tools. These are leading edge professional grade tools, but there's nothing stopping you from renting their platform, reading through their extensive resource base, and running your own project. There are a couple of articles on their site about the pros and cons of running your own projects.(I thought they had a tool specific to DIY, but I'm not seeing it there.)
BlogNog is an online research platform that has a lot of features, but they also promote it as a good tool for DIY research.
QualVu is an online video platform, that also promotes a DIY option. I'm not clear on how the DIY option is priced or handled differently than if someone like me was just to rent their platform.
IdeaScale is a tool that is designed to encourage the submission of ideas from a group of users, and let them vote up, vote down, comment and enhance the ideas. Depending on what you have in mind, it might work well for you.
There are MANY more tools, as you will see from the NewQual directory. Just like going to Home Depot, buying the power tools is actually the easiest part of the project. Just remember that carpentry adage: measure twice, cut once.
Have you had experience with DIY? I'd love to hear from you on this. Was it a happy experience? Would you do it again?