The irony of us carrying out a survey, to demonstrate that people aren’t all that keen on surveys, is not lost on us. When asked what they would find most useful, 90% of our respondents preferred something other than a survey.
Frankly, we’re not surprised. Surveys can be very useful in some circumstances, such as understanding what buyers want from the organisations they work with. But too often they’re used for purposes they are less well suited to—such as explaining what leading firms are doing to stay ahead, or unearthing practical advice about how to deal with a specific challenge. And there’s also the challenge, whatever the objective, of conveying the results. Too many survey reports make for a tedious read with paragraph after paragraph describing what could easily be understood from a chart.
In our view, the survey ought to be just one of many options considered. And if, after careful thought, a survey is the best option, it needs to be carefully designed to test out predefined hypotheses. In our experience, it’s wise to avoid the “let’s ask lots of questions and see what comes of it” approach to survey design. It’s also wise to consider how survey data can be embellished with both expert insight and qualitative data. Both will make the end product more interesting and insightful, and should also avoid any doubt that your expertise only runs as far as commissioning a survey.
So, what did our survey respondents say they wanted? Not surprisingly, to us at least, buyers of consulting services want to read interviews with senior leaders in organisations that are on the leading edge. They want to hear from people they can relate to and learn from, to understand what it really takes to make it work. Introduce those stories into your thought leadership and you’ll make a lot of your audience very happy.
White Space subscribers can find out what else buyers of consulting services like and dislike in their thought leadership in our latest report: Thought leadership: What buyers of consulting services really want to know and how.