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Selecting the right qualitative researcher for your marketing project is critical, because a lot of money and your credibility are on the line. As a result, many marketers and researchers often stick with the same person over and over again to avoid the risk of failure.

However, because the field of qualitative research attracts people from many walks of life, marketers should be open to selecting someone who may bring a unique point of view or approach to a specific research challenge. I know, because I've been on both sides—as the client selecting a moderator, and as the moderator being scrutinized for a project.

In my informal interviews of various marketing clients, many have stated that one of the most critical skills they desire in a qualitative researcher is the ability to not only report findings but also easily grasp the marketing issues with which the team is grappling—all while assisting the team on a decision path. That requirement was true regardless of whether the moderator came from the world of marketing, psychology, or anthropology, or another field of study.

Accordingly, I've outlined the five questions that those selecting a qualitative researcher/moderator should keep in mind to not only help make them look good but also get the best, most usable outcomes for their team.

Ask yourself...

Does she understand marketing basics and language?

Though some may perceive that a qualitative researcher is just a question-asker, the reality is that she can add immense value as a research partner if she understands marketing.

At a minimum, that understanding will help her to ask you the right questions and to design the best study approach. Also, someone with marketing savvy can anticipate research questions as learning unfolds during the study. She'll be quick to probe and get those thoughts onto the table (even as you're thinking them in the backroom or behind the computer screen); otherwise, they may remain unspoken.

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image of Martha  Guidry

Martha Guidry, the Concept Queen, is principal of The Rite Concept and author of Marketing Concepts that Win! She is a speaker, radio guest, and blogger on concept development.