Connecting offline: in-field survey tips.

We recently completed some in-field surveys on behalf of Latrobe City Council. We are working on a brand perception study of the Latrobe Valley. Our study involves trying to understand how people who live in Latrobe feel about the place they call home, and how the rest of Victoria feels about the region.

The term ‘field’ is used in survey research and refers to the geographical setting where data collection takes place. Typically this refers to in-person interviewing and thus the name, in-field survey. In-field interviewing is one of three traditional ways to collect survey data (telephone and mail are the other two).

So, on a sunny August morning, myself and my colleague set up a little fold out table, stuck some Latrobe Story t-shirts up and fired up the iPad.

People were initially a bit put off by our little table and signage and it took a few tweaks in our approach to get them talking to us.

Here’s some survey tips:

1) People thought we were asking for money.
Make sure if you’re going to undertake in-field interviews, that you have clear signage stating “we don’t want any money”.

2) We kept getting moved on by business owners.
Get permission from shop owners and malls before you arrive to conduct your surveys. Some shopping malls require applications up to two weeks prior to your survey day. There’s nothing worse than finishing setting up and then being told to move on. Plan and prepare your day.

3) There weren’t enough people in the street.
Make sure you plan your day around the best position for busy periods. For example: if your target demographic is people who have small children, why not set up outside a school? (also refer to no.2)

Field surveys have several advantages over other modes of data collection. Spending two days in Latrobe Valley and actually speaking to the people who live there has been vital to informing the strategies that have been the foundations of this brand perception study. A decision is only as good as the intelligence that informs it. Before you enact change, it pays to learn and also to engage and build awareness.

Ellis Jones regularly uses market research to ensure our clients make progress with intelligence and confidence.