Research Panel Questions
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  1. Membership vs. Customers
    1. We make a distinction here between questions for a market you serve, versus questions for members who actively participate in the organization.
      Sometimes members and customers are the same, but there is a different set of concerns for a service population vs. a membership population.
    2. Members are similar to customers in that they joined the organization to fulfill certain needs, and they are frequently considering whether your organization provides the best value among alternatives. A service population (customers) can shop around and they are comparing the value they get from you against the value they might get elsewhere.
    3. Members are different from customers in that they've made a stronger commitment to the organization. They are typically not making decisions event by event. And paying membership dues for a year creates an expectation of participation beyond that of a customer constantly shopping for the best deal.
  2. Research Objectives
    The Market Panels can be used to perform different types of research:
    1. Program evaluation
      Used after a program to test how it was received by attendees. The target would be those who actually attended the program, which would be more focused and short-term than a market panel. Typically you'd be handing out a card to attendees as they leave; the card could provide a URL for their evaluation, or it could be the entire survey to be filled out on the site and dropped off. Also a chance to solicit members for other panels.
      A second option is to survey a relevant panel, with a response option for "Did not attend", which give you a better estimate of the market penetration.
    2. Program development
      Presenting potential attendees with program options (such as time of presentation, format, locations, costs, content) to find out the market's preferences.
    3. Market understanding
      Market panel research could be aimed at better understanding the decision-making process of panel members.
      1. What are the customers' criteria for making choices?
      2. What providers are they aware of in a particular area?
      3. How do customers actually make decisions?
        1. Is it primarily the choice of the wife? the husband? the couple? the kids?
        2. Do customers choose to come at the last minute? Do they plan ahead to attend?
      4. How do customers find out about programs? What is their preferred way to be notified?
    4. Strategic Objective metrics
      Testing whether program offerings are seen as 1st or 2nd in the eyes of your target population.
      1. Questions in the Market Understanding section should have surfaced who panel members consider as potential providers. The question here would be how well your program offerings rank in that pool of providers.
      2. What would significantly increase your rank in the eyes of the panel members?
  3. Specific Customer question suggestions
    1. Strategic Objective: Ranking in the field
      The essential question is where would the panel place your organization as a provider of the relevant services or events.
      1. Provide a list of the available providers generated by previous questions.
        The metric is the % of the responding market panel who name your organization as their 1st or 2nd preferred provider.
      2. QUESTION: As a source of X, which provider would be your first choice, that is, you generally expect their offerings to be the best available?
        For example, "When you are looking for sophisticated entertainment opportunities, which of the following providers would be your first choice, that is, you would generally expect their offerings to be the best availalble?"
      3. QUESTION: As a source of X, which provider would be your second choice, that is, you generally expect their offerings to be very attractive, but not quite up to your first choice?
      4. QUESTION: For the provider you mentioned as your top choice, what is the primary reason for your ranking them so highly?
        1. Reputation in the field?
        2. Quality of particular offerings?
        3. Value for the price?
        4. The comfort or elegance of their facility?
        5. A chance to support the organization?
    2. Testing program options
      Checking out different programs with panel members before launching the program.
      1. "We are considering offering an informal meeting with musicians prior to one of our regularly scheduled evening performances. Would you be more likely to attend such an event if it were scheduled (a) for the afternoon prior to the actual performance, (b) the evening before the day of the performance, or (c) the hour just prior to the performance?"
      2. "We are planning on offering a series of courses on parenting skills. Which format would you be most likely to attend:
        1. A one-day format
        2. Two half-day programs on consequtive weekends
        3. An evening format for 3 sessions scheduled over 3 weeks
        4. An evening format with 3 sessions on consequetive days
      3. We are planning on having several famous artists as part of our Fall program. Which of the following would be the most interest to you:
        1. Hearing them talk about their most significant works
        2. Hearing their reflections on current issues in the art community
        3. Hearing about upcoming works
        4. Hearing about what led them to becoming a writer / artist / performer
    3. Market understanding
      How do panel members choose one resource over another.
      1. Identifying other players in the domain
        What other organizations does the panel see as alternate resources for the same services or events.
        1. QUESTION: When you are looking for X, which organizations would you typically look to for good options?
          This question should give the respondent the chance to generate a list from their memory, without being prompted. People typically recognize a much longer list of providers than they would generate from recall alone. We want to know who they remember in this question, not who they recognize when prompted.
        2. QUESTION: [separate screen] Independent of your answers on the previous screen, which of the following organizations have you heard of as a provider of X?
          Provide a list of relevant organizations. It might be generated from previous surveys, or known from the experience of your organization's staff.
      2. Criteria for choice
        1. QUESTION: When you are looking for X, what are the key criteria that determine your choice?
          1. Geographical location; convenience to your home or work?
          2. Lowest possible cost?
          3. The overall quality of the program offering?
          4. Knowing the providers personally?
          5. The comfort and elegance of the facilities?
          6. The general reputation of the provider?
          7. Opportunities to meet with others in the community before or after the event?
          8. Etc.?
      3. Decision process
        This might give you a clue about who you're actually marketing to; if a decision is routinely made by the female, that might change your choice of wording, format, or color.
        1. QUESTION: In your family, who typically makes the choice of X?
          1. Usually the husband or male partner
          2. Usually the wife or female partner
          3. We make the choice together
          4. No regular pattern to who makes the choice
    4. Program evaluation
      Presumably these questions would be posed to actual attendees, either through an available online survey or through a card handed out at the conclusion of the event. If the offering falls within a particular market panel, you could also query the panel members about whether they knew of the program, what they thought of it, or why they did or did not attend.
      1. If you did not attend this event, were you aware of it?
      2. If you did not attend this event, did you consider going and then decide against it?
        1. What were the primary reasons you did not attend?
          1. Cost?
          2. Location or facility?
          3. Schedule?
          4. Content?
        2. Would you consider coming to another event of similar type in the future?
      3. If you did attend this event, ..
        1. ..did it meet or exceed your expectations?
        2. ..did it feel like a good value for the cost?
  4. Expanding the panel
    1. PREAMBLE: We find input from people such as yourself to be extremely useful in developing high-quality, targeted programming. We'd appreciate your help in strengthening the panel.
    2. QUESTION: Could you suggest someone similar to yourself ([insert the salient characteristics of the panel]) who is not currently a member of the organization? Just REPLY to this email and insert their name and email in the CC: field. Feel free to add any introduction you want. The explanation of panel membership will be included along with this email.
    3. STATEMENT: [include at end of email] One of your friends has suggested you as a possible market panel member for the organization. Panel members serve for about a year, and agree to respond to a 2-3 minute email survey once every month or so. Typically a survey involves only 2-3 questions. We find this a powerful tool for developing programs that most closely match the needs and preferences of the people we want to serve. We hope you'll consider our invitation. If you have any questions, please visit for full details on the program, including a definition of all the various panels. We look forward to hearing from you.
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