Don't fall asleep! This is the bit of the planning basics when we start to talk about quant. It's something you can't avoid as planner, but as far as I'm concerned, if you treat numbers right, they can be you're friend.
This is not a quant masterclass by the way, it's some useful starts. No more no less.
First up, here are some initial principles......
Starting with WHEN to use it.The accepted way to do research is to start with lots of qualitative, in depth, discursive research. Once you've learned something you can use, you use quant to prove what you think you know, with a big sample answering the same questions. This is fine, but you can do a lot more than that. For a start, it MAY be useful to do more quant up front if you have the kind of client that deals only in fact. That doesn't mean you leave out innovation or inspiration, you just have to know how to use the numbers.
Quant is useful because it helps you get closer to clients - numbers are their key performance measure, so getting to grips with the discipline allows you to join in the debate. If you're REALLY going to show you know their business and customers, it's useful to do it through stats.
But it's pretty useful anyway. Here are the ways it can be used:
FRAMING THE PROBLEM. It's really useful for showing you what the communications TASK is. For example, Skoda wasn't selling enough cars, despite the fact people seemed to like the brand. They found that they were getting on people's initial consideration lists, but the numbers were showing they were not following through to the final shortlist and purchase. The numbers framed the problem - AND the solution. The task was to show why the cars were good AS WELL as the brand
Data is the ONLY way to prove your campaign has been effective. This comes back to the the very real need for you and your clients to know you really are affecting profits... and you won't win an effectiveness award with focus groups.
Now unless you're very lucky, you're not likely to have a quant research in-house, it may be the case that you have the type of c lient who does their research independent of the agency, or you might have the sole responsibility of organising a research company to do the job. In all cases, you need to have input into the research brief and you need to understand the methodology they'll use.
Like any brief, what you get out is directly related to what you put in. The innovation starts here. If the research is your responsibility, that speaks for itself, but if the client has hired someone, you'll want to have input into the brief. Not only because you want to make sure there's something worthwhile coming out the other end, but also it's down to the fact that independently hired research companies make conclusions and recommendations. That's a chance to cut planning out of the process. You don't want that, so have input from the start, get them uncovering what YOU think is important. Otherwise you'll end up with very expensive, very useless information, or you'll have the strategy done for you.
So make the researcher your friend. I can't recommend this enough. And if you have the choice of who to hire, pick someone who's used to working with agencies - you need someone who knows where research end and planning starts.
(Don't forget much of this is from a smaller agency Up North perspective, other experiences may be different. If that's the case please add your point of view in the comments)
Now none of these 'basics posts' can make MAKE any good at planning (assuming they make any sense in the first place), so you won't become a quant wizard over night, that needs learning by doing. But we're going to cover the basics of:
1. How to go about developing a questionnaire and methodology to develop a new strategic direction.
2. How to go about quantitative pre-testing.
3. How to go about testing effectiveness.
It will be from the perspective of a planner working with a research agency, and while it may involve some of the things you'd like to do the least, you can't avoid this cropping up, so you may as well grasp the nettle.
First bit next week.