• Barry Coziahr

How to Survey People: Market Research Part 4

Updated: Nov 21, 2019

Before you can ask your target audience a question you have to get in front of them. You can have the best questions in the world but if no one will talk to you, it’s not going to work. A vital thing you need to do when going out on the street to talk to people is to assure them that you are respectful of their time.



You want to prove right from the start that this will only take a minute or two. You aren’t going to hold them hostage. People are busy to begin with and they do not enjoy intrusions into their already hectic lives.

Just say something like, “We’re doing a three-question questionnaire, and would value your opinion. It only takes a minute.” That’s going to yield much better results that, “Would you be willing to participate in a survey?”

Another thing you’ll want to do is conduct these interviews in public places. You don’t want to be on private property and run the risk of being tossed out. This will also ensure that you have adequate traffic and can talk to lots of people in a short amount of time.

You’ll also want to talk to individuals not groups. If you see a group of people, it’s tempting because you think you’ll be able to complete a lot of research at once. But the thing with groups is there is always one spokesperson and they tend to dominate opinion.

You won’t be getting a true opinion of individuals. People fear being judged by their peers, so they are apt to go along with whatever everyone else gives as their answers.

You need to be friendly and dressed appropriately. You do not need to dress up in a full suit. Business casual will work fine. Be approachable and professional with common courtesy and you’ll be able to complete this research quite easily.

Most people want to be helpful and love giving opinions. I cover communication in my book as well if you need to brush up on any skills in that department.

Lastly, be prepared. Use a clipboard. Have plenty of copies. Make it easy on you and your subjects. You need a system to gather your notes and move onto the next person.


Finally, what questions should you ask?


This is the fun part. The best way to start off is with a couple of questions that disarm people and gather some information. You might just collect some demographic data that can help later and is easy for people to answer.

Things you can ask are:

• Age bracket

• Occupation

• Where they live (neighborhood etc.)

Now that things are rolling in the interview, remember we want to be brief; we can ask more opinion style questions.

We are looking for questions that uncover those problems with a particular product or service.

You might ask what people currently do to solve XYZ?

Then ask if they could change one thing about it, what would it be?

An important thing here, is that you are going to need to be an effective listener and take good notes.

You might ask about the current provider.

For example, if you were starting a pizza parlor you would ask: “Where do you currently order your pizza from?”

The next couple of questions would be:

• What do you love about them?

• What do you hate about them?

• What do you wish they offered but don’t?

Now you can begin thinking about how you can craft solutions that improve upon what they love and solve the parts that cause them pain.

That’s the idea behind the survey aspect of your market research. Next, in Part 5, we are going to look at how we can analyze these results. We’ll look at an example and craft a few action steps that flow from this information.

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