If Research conjures up cavernous laboratories with dozens of wicked smart folks pursuing Science with budgets in the zillions, that’s great. I like that kind of Research. But, to hone your messaging, we’re after research with a lowercase r.
If that still sounds too time consuming or expensive, think how much it costs for a creative team to iterate (and iterate) without getting the engagement expected.
What if you could invest a day of time—understandably that can range from 6 hours to 16 based on your commute, the weather, if your son smeared jelly on your suit before breakfast, etcetera, etcetera. Any of those days will do, but you invest that equivalent of time to engage with your audience (user/patient/employee) about their troubles and how you make their lives better in direct, old-fashioned conversation. Would it be worth it if you got back zippier copy, elegant design, and smarter campaigns?
5 interviews get you great quotes
When you talk with five different people, you can nab language. Phrases that roll off the tongue, words that aren’t technical, everyday speech.
You can attribute that lexicon to a person—not just a user/patient/employee/buyer, or a persona, or a segment of your audience. You can start to hear the cadence of their voice—is it slow to get started? Fast and opinionated? Clipped? Witty? Long-winded?
Then you and your team get to address your creative efforts to a human. Start an authentic conversation. Despite all the new and old media forms we slot into our campaigns, in the end, we’re just trying to talk to someone. Squabbles about illustration versus photography, the use of humor or buttoned-up copy—those squabbles are an effort to talk to Everyone, not Someone.
15 interviews swell your confidence
When you have 15 different conversations, with the same discussion prompts, something else happens. Your vision blurs. People lose their individuality. Groups appear, ideas and thought patterns cluster. Sometimes the language in those groups is common, sometimes not.
Clearly, you can’t talk to 15 people in a day unless you are a robot. So, this kind of research requires more investment. But in return, you gain new confidence in how you solve real-world problems for everyday people.
Then you can give your creative team a box. Just like a good deadline, constraints can spark unexpected new directions and lead you down unexpected pathways. And, you can design A-B tests on that value statement and see if you got it right.
Perfection is not the goal
Research isn’t this simple, granted. But it isn’t that hard either. And, it doesn’t need to culminate in a dense, chart-packed peer-reviewed report.
Huddle with your creative team.
Consult your product team.
Experiment with the findings.
Measure the impact.
Go back and start another conversation.
One last bit of advice: if you’re afraid to talk to your end-user, you might not feel confident enough in your program or solution’s value to take the constructive feedback. Forge ahead. This is exactly the time to listen up. If you need support getting this work done, I’d be delighted to support you.