Asking the “Right” Questions to Get the “Right” Answers

In advertising, the goal of planning is to understand how people think, feel, and behave. Account planners need to ensure that communications speak directly to consumers and draw them to the client. In order to do this effectively, it is crucial to do research that allows us to:

know the consumer, know the brand, and connect the two.

How do we get to know the consumer and the brand? By asking questions. Not just questions about a brand or category, but questions that provide some insight into who the consumer is. What they watch on television, or what their favorite type of takeout is. These types of questions provide invaluable information about what the best method of communicating with the consumer is.

Focus groups are commonly used in consumer research

Focus groups are commonly used in consumer research

The best way to ask the “right” questions is to use open-ended questions that can lead respondents to tell a story. Here are some ways of turning close-ended questions into more effective, open-ended questions:

Have you ever sent a text message while driving?

  • What do you do if you want to tell your friend something while you’re driving?
  • What do you do if you receive a text message while driving?

Would you say you travel abroad frequently?

  • Have you been overseas? Tell me about your favorite place you’ve traveled.
  • Tell me about any experiences you’ve had abroad.

Do you post a lot of pictures on Instagram?

  • What are the things you consider when uploading a photo to social media?
  • What do you like the most about posting pictures on Instagram?

Do you prefer to shop at big boxes or locally owned stores?

  • What are your favorite stores to shop at? Why do you prefer these stores to others?
  • What differs the most in shopping at a big box vs. at a locally owned store?

Do you have an iPhone or Android phone?

  • What type of smartphone do you own and what factors did you consider when purchasing it?
  • What factors do you think are most important to people when purchasing a smartphone?

How often do you eat sweets?

  • What is your favorite type of sweet? Why?
  • If you could eat whatever you wanted without impacting your health, what sweets would you indulge in and why?

Do you tend to buy things that are on sale?

  • Would you consider yourself a bargain shopper? Why would you say that?
  • What type of impact does a sale have on your purchasing behavior? Explain.

These few examples show how asking open-ended questions can lead you to better, more detailed answers from the consumer. Another effective tactic is asking follow-up questions. These questions make the respondent feel at ease with the interviewer and more likely to open up to them.

Remember, questions should keep the respondent engaged. If you ask boring questions, you’ll get boring answers that provide no insight for your campaign.

Any questions?

That’s all, folks!


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