Renee Cameron been conducting dial testing focus groups for more than two decades and as a founding partner and now Global Account Director of The Optimization Group, Renee continues to use dial testing on behalf of her advertising and market research clients.
With so much real world dial testing experience under her belt, we thought it would be great to get Renee’s perspectives and insights on how this research tool has impacted her work and career. Here’s what she had to say:
Q: How do you initially talk about dial testing with a client?
Renee: Qualitative methods are very insightful. You develop a deep and rich understanding of what people want and why. On the flip side, quantitative methods give you data and statistical reliability. Dial testing is unique in that it allows you to give clients the best of both worlds by introducing quant into a qual environment.
Q: How does your experience and previous success with using dials help differentiate what you can offer to clients?
Renee: It’s hard to say… we typically don’t know who else they’re talking to. But when you have a client that needs both insights and data, I have an answer for them.
Dial testing is unique in that allows you to give clients the best of both worlds by introducing quant into a qual environment… When you have a client that needs both insights and data, I have an answer for them.
Q: Are there specific types of research projects that come your way that you immediately say, “this would be perfect to use the dials for”? If so, what types of projects are those?
Renee: It’s projects where we want to understand something, which requires an exploratory element, but we also need to validate, which requires statistical rigor. Or sometimes, a client’s objective is to get rich insights but they need data to make a case for the findings to management.
Q: How do you use, and how do you present, the dial testing results to your clients? How do you speak about those results?
Renee: With this approach, I’m able to pull from both the dial data and the discussion transcripts to present a compelling story. In my presentations, I typically show the dial data in graphs.
This quali-quant approach lends itself better to telling a compelling story than if I only had one or the other. I sometimes refer to it as, “The ‘Ying’ and the ‘Yang’ of the insights.” I can say, “Here is a fact and here is the insight around that fact so you can understand it better.” Whereas, if I was only doing qual, I could only say, “Here are a bunch of insights. Do these exist in the wild? I don’t know for sure.” Or if I was only doing quant, I would say, “Here is a bunch of data. Why did they feel that way? I don’t really know.”
Q: Any tips, best practices or advice when conducting dial sessions?
Renee: I’ve been doing dial work for a long time—for more than 20 years. The way we used to do it was to run the dial session first. The group would put down the dials and we’d send half of them home. Then we’d do a focus group session with the sub-group we selected to stay. When I started working with your team, we decided to do things a different way. We keep the full group for the entire session. We ask a short group of dial questions and then have a conversation about just those questions. Then you move on to the next group of dial questions. This newer approach has been tremendously helpful because everyone is much more engaged in the discussions and the time span is condensed so we’re getting much fresher discussion on what we are seeing from the dials. It’s more insightful and everyone contributes.
[Clients] love seeing the instantaneous feedback right then and there rather than having to wait until after the session is over or for the final report to be presented.
Q: For a client who hasn’t observed dial testing before, is there anything you tell them right before the session to keep in mind?
Renee: I make sure they know that the computer monitor in the viewing room is showing real time results from the dial group. They love seeing the instantaneous feedback right then and there rather than having to wait until after the session is over or for the final report to be presented.
Q: Any feedback you’ve gotten from a client after a dial session that’s stuck in your head?
Renee: What I hear over and over again from my clients is that they like it because all the participants seem much more engaged and the insights provided are much richer than what they would get otherwise.
Big thanks to Renee for sharing her insights with us. If you’ve got a story to share on how dial testing has been impacted your research or relationships with your clients, we’d like to hear it. Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.