Guerrilla Tactic Before You Publish the Results

Think about getting a separate review team to examine your findings. Recruit objective academics and experts who have practical experience in the field being surveyed. Make sure that they don't have a stake in the outcomes. Ask them to look for patterns in the data and for results that make them say, "Aha." Most surveys contain powerful information that will elicit such a response, but finding it often takes fresh eyes and time.

clear. Ask if they need any additional materials and give short deadlines; otherwise they'll take forever.

Give yourself sufficient time. Surveys invariably take longer than expected. Virtually every aspect of a survey can require follow-up and many details must be tracked. When you're dependent on others who are outside your control, response time increases. It's also tricky to put pressure on people whom you've asked for a favor. After the first cycle, the process gets easier, but during the initial go-round, something always goes wrong. Surveys provide spawning grounds for Murphy's Law.

Create firm privacy controls. Set your privacy policy early in the project so that it's completely in place when you approach prospective respondents. Privacy leaks can destroy your credibility, and the word will get out and kill future cooperation.

Assure respondents that you won't disclose information that they provide. If any part of the demographic information inadvertently reveals the identity of a respondent, mask that data. Potential respondents always want to know who else is participating in the survey, so give generalized answers that don't name the participants. Although your survey documents must provide a profile of respondents and demographic information, don't name people or companies.

■ getting the survey to the market

Marketing your survey can be a tougher job than conducting the survey, so prepare your marketing program at the same time that you design your survey. Before you send a single press release about the survey, your first job is to be sure the survey results get into the hands of every survey respondent who requested one, along with an invitation to review the results one-on-one, or in small groups with other survey respondents.

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