by David Katz March 30, 2012
In my role as VP, Group Director at InsightExpress, I spend much of my day talking to clients about their unique business issues and how to tackle them cost effectively while adhering to methodological best practices and key considerations for successful research engagements.
Recently, during several discussions about custom panels, I’ve been asked how I advise my clients to set up their panels for success. Since there seems to be some misunderstanding about what panels are (and are not), I wanted to separate fact from fiction.
Myth #1: A panel needs to be free-form communication to get the most out of it.
In my experience, I have found just the opposite to be true. The most successful panels that I’ve been a part of have excelled precisely as a result of the structured nature of the engagement. By mapping out a set of objectives, determining the proper mix of participants, identifying the ideal panel size and outlining panelist touch points well in advance, we were rewarded with a steady, but manageable stream of long-term, qualified insights.
Myth #2: It isn’t a problem to ask the panelists recruited for qualitative research to participate in quantitative research.
While this may seem like an efficient approach to conduct both quantitative and qualitative research, it won’t yield high quality data and it will do very little to generate goodwill among your panelists. At InsightExpress, our InsightPanels approach manages each panel asset independently yet harnesses the unique benefits of exploratory qualitative interactions and high-quality quantitative research in a single, centrally managed, full service, yet affordable proprietary research solution. By managing each panel asset individually but incorporating progressive (quant/qual) insights, we honor research best practices and offer a decade of quantitative experience in a closed loop, integrated learning environment.
Myth #3: Honesty may not be the best policy when it comes to managing panelist expectations.
If you are serious about establishing a viable panel then you should definitely be upfront about what you expect from a panelist. Successful panels require brutal honesty when it comes to setting commitments and communication frequency. By establishing these expectations upfront, you won’t see high levels of attrition once you move full steam ahead which will save the all important time and money.
Myth #4: A panel demands too much time from my already limited resources.
It can be argued that this myth has some truth to it since it’s hard to argue that panels don’t require a level of time commitment (especially during the planning stages). However, the time investment that’s required to establish a panel ties directly back to our earlier discussion about structure. Panels that are purposefully designed to strike a delicate communication balance across a variety of engaging qualitative and quantitative touch points can reap informational dividends. Moreover, with the support of a knowledgeable team on your side, any perceived burden is greatly reduced by the value and depth of the insights.
I would love to learn more about other panel myths that you may have come across. Please post or send them to me directly at email@example.com