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  • Writer's pictureC.E.K. & Partners

Planning for Market Research? Here’s Your Research Checklist for a Focus Group or Online Survey.

Atlanta-based agency handling market research. Don't drive blind.

“Marketing without data is like driving with your eyes closed.”

– Dan Zarella

At C.E.K. & Partners, an Atlanta-based branding, strategic communication and market research firm, we love the simplicity and truth of this statement, "Marketing without data is like driving with your eyes closed." The true intention of market research is to better understand the voice of your existing customer or your ideal prospective one. Without this perspective, you are indeed driving blind.

Valuable insights from market research - whether an online survey or focus groups - shift teams away from making decisions based on opinions and move them toward making smarter business decisions based on actual data.

Here’s just a sampling of what market research informs:

  • Brand positioning

  • Value proposition articulation

  • Naming

  • Tagline validation

  • Creative and package design testing

  • Content creation

  • Website usability

  • Customer experience design

  • Mission or purpose

The value of data and insights captured from market research extend beyond marketing into communications, product development, product management and sales.

Before you commit to one market research firm or one technique over another – let’s start by taking a look at the key questions to question during your initial planning phase.

What are the key questions to ask and address before data collection even begins?

  • Actual customers or non-customers who represent your “ideal” customer?

  • What is the title or role of the participant?

  • Where will you obtain the list of potential participants? Will it be an in-house customer list or will your team need to tap into a panel?

What Exactly Is a Market Research Panel?

Panels are pre-recruited groups of people who have agreed to participate in B2B and B2C market research studies. They are built using broad criteria such as a panel of B2B buyers, healthcare workers, or small business owners. Working with a panel entails building a screener to ensure the right individuals from the panel are invited to participate in the study (e.g., fleet card/program managers or school superintendents responsible for flooring purchases). Panel participants receive an incentive of some kind or payment for their participation – whether for an online survey, focus group or website user testing.

Question: What Is the Best Design for the Study?

Understanding what you want to learn and who will participate in your study will help guide your selected market research firm with the design of the study, whether it’s focus groups, in-depth interviews, online bulletin boards or a quantitative survey.

  • What is the lifestyle of the ideal customer? Is she a professional with access to a phone and computer throughout the day or is he an entrepreneur out in the field or a long-haul truck driver on the road during business hours? These are all factors influencing the market research design.

  • Would a coordinated quantitative and qualitative market research study provide the most powerful insights? For example, starting with quantitative research often allows for identifying areas that require additional context, which dovetails well with a follow-up qualitative phase. For more on considerations for designing a quantitative study, check out the post "Capturing Insights: Without Data You're Just Another Person With An Opinion."

  • Blind or sponsored? Will the study be blind or openly sponsored by your brand?

Ready to design a focus group, online survey or online bulletin board with a market research firm in Atlanta? It takes planning and expertise.

Let's talk. or call Carolyn at +1.404.345.6447.

Carolyn Kopf is the founder and managing partner of C.E.K. & Partners, a branding, strategic communication and market research firm in Atlanta. Carolyn can be contacted at +1.404.345.6447 or via email at

Category leaders across manufacturing, healthcare, financial services, fintech and payments depend on C.E.K. & Partners' team to capture data and identify key insights in order to help them achieve their goals. What questions do you have about market research? Contact us today!

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