Author: Julia Eisenberg
A client and good friend recently asked me, earnestly, “Does the research method really matter?”
I was speechless, incredulous, stunned.
“Of course it matters!” I managed to sputter.
“But if you’re talking to consumers, you’re talking to consumers – why focus on how? Shouldn’t we care more about what we hear?” he asked.
I thought for a minute about how to respond. He was actually kind of right. I’d intentionally focused his attention on what we heard in the research, and he was confident enough in my abilities that he didn’t spend too much time questioning how we got there. By design, I’d shifted his focus away from the how – the right move to make the most of his time, attention and energy.
So then, why was I shocked at his question? I was asking for trust, cultivating trust, so why was I surprised he trusted me? While no client should completely ignore the importance of method and design, trusting that your partners have the knowledge and expertise to design the right method is how the real value of research is realized. Clients should spend their time thinking, strategizing and trusting their partners to handle everything else.
That’s why, at Aspen Finn, we spend almost as much time and energy working to understand which research method is right for each client and for each objective as we do crafting the insights. The goal is to build enough trust that our clients don’t think about it (because they know we’ll do that for them).
We’re lucky enough to have a host of industry-leading tools and approaches at our disposal. As a result, our clients have the luxury of forgetting they have to pick a method. We solve problems. We share stories. We help businesses grow. And yes, the method matters, but because our clients trust our judgement and are free to focus on what they hear, the stories stick. The insights live on beyond one project or one readout. The right questions asked via the right approach lead to the right story, every time.