Want Impact? Do Your Research.
Think of the critical decisions that your organization, collaborative, or campaign might make about its future direction. Should you trust that future to assumptions about issues, audiences and challenges? Wouldn’t you rather have objective data to help you make the most informed choice? While there may be some value in “gut” feelings, they also can be dead wrong.
Further, without research and data, it’s harder to justify your plans or actions to key supporters. Concrete evidence can help persuade someone who is on the fence, or directly counter a narrative that’s based on something other than fact. Research also can help you get into the minds of those you wish to draw to your cause, determining what messages will resonate most, which will be most effective in achieving your short and long-term goals, and what vehicles and messengers will receive the warmest reception.
Consider this example: An organization that wanted to encourage families to sign up for early childhood programs decided to create a marketing campaign via social media to take advantage of the cost-effective nature of this communication vehicle. The organization planned and launched a strategy on Facebook targeting young parents in their region. But instead of increased uptake, they received radio silence. Why? Research to investigate the problem showed that parents in the region mostly relied on local television stations and neighborhood based printed newspapers (particularly those in their native language) as reliable sources of information about trustworthy early education providers. An investment to gather information upfront could have saved the organization time and money, and moved it closer to its goals.