Great research is all about:
- Finding the right people to talk to
- Asking them the right questions
The Recruiting Guide is the researcher’s tool to ensure we get the first one right – talk to the right people. It is an important written agreement between the researcher and the client that must be approved. This ensures that at the end of the study you know you’ve talked to the right people and helps prevent the “Why did we talk to THAT guy?” syndrome.
But Recruiting Guides can be tricky. The core problem is that prospects don’t talk like marketers do. Marketers like to segment their audience into tidy boxes, but in real life peoples’ roles aren’t that clean. With Recruiting Guides, it is particularly important to be careful about any questions where you ask about responsibility.
IT professionals typically have great pride of ownership in their work – which is great for the businesses that rely on IT business services to function. However, it can be difficult for researchers who need to find a certain type of person, because many people will put up their hands to say they have that responsibility.
In a recent study we were looking for IT procurement participants. We needed to talk to the people who did the hands-on financial and contract work, not the technical buyer who determines the product to purchase and then passes that off to procurement to get the paperwork done. Definitely the way NOT to write the Recruiting Guide in this case was to ask, “Do you have responsibility for IT procurement?” Probably every employee in the IT organization would answer “yes” to that. They all evaluate technology solutions and make recommendations. They feel ownership and responsibility for procurement, even though they don’t have formal procurement roles.
Instead, we asked questions in the guide about reporting structure and the focus of their jobs – how much of their time was spent on procurement? – and we got exactly the people we wanted.
Practical Tip: Think about someone who works with the people you want in your study, but that you don’t want to participate. Imagine how they would answer the questions and pass the screener. It can be challenging, but if you look at every question in the Recruiting Guide and think how someone might qualify for a study even though they aren’t the persona you want, the result will be a better project.