How to Plan a Survey Like a Market Research Pro

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Posted Aug 31, 2011

Planning a market research survey can seem like an overwhelming task if you don’t know where to start. It is important to think about what purpose your survey will serve in your marketing efforts. By following these simple steps, you can learn how to plan a survey that will yield helpful and quantifiable results.

Set Clear Objectives

Before you even start to think about how to plan a survey, you need to be clear about what you need the survey to accomplish. Are you looking for ways to improve your company’s advertising message? Do you need to find out why more customers are leaving for your competition? Are you thinking about introducing a new product and looking to find out how it would be received by your current customers? Do you want to find out what percentage of your target market knows about your company or your product? Whatever your objectives are, it’s important for you to have a clear purpose mapped out for your survey before you start creating it.

Planning a Survey


Once you’ve clearly stated your objectives, the next step is to hypothesize about your results. What answers are you expecting to see based on what you already know about your customers, your sales and your company? Do you expect to see that your new product will be better received among younger customers? Do you think your products are not reaching your target market because of your lack of advertising? Do you think your new ad campaign will be well received among members of your target market? You may be surprised by your survey’s results, or you may just confirm what you thought all along. Either way, creating and conducting a proper survey will better equip your company for the next step in your marketing efforts.


When you first created your objectives, you may have chosen several. However, in order to keep your survey focused and on-task, it’s important for you to choose your most important objectives and make your survey focus on those. So if your main objective is to find out what percentage of your target market knows about your new product, you should make sure that all parts of your survey work toward answering that question. Steer clear of questions that have nothing to do with it. Even if you also want to know why some of your customers are leaving for your competition – it’s not relevant to your main objective, so it should be left for a different survey or research avenue.Learning how to plan a survey is an essential step for market researchers everywhere. Remaining focused with a core objective in mind will keep your survey precise, on point, and helpful to your company’s mission.Photo Credit: Don't touch my planner from Flickr

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