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Imagine a future where you had friction free access to your customers and prospects to gain their real time feedback, insight and direction. Where you did not have to rely on generic, impersonal, 3rd party sources of data.

Imagine your customers and prospects were the sixth man on your team, at your side, at the ready and available without significant hassle, cost or time constraint. Imagine the use of emerging technology to gain richer insights into their mindset and behavior.  Imagine having all of this at your fingertips. How might this change the way you do business? How might this improve your offerings, messages, and strategies? How might this change your culture and even your career?

Well, it’s time to stop imagining and start doing, because much of this dream, thanks to disruption in the research industry is becoming available on demand, at your whim.  In fact, the new barriers to bringing your customers and prospects more into the fold of your daily decision making and activities are shifting from cost, timing and availability to those of imagination, initiation, and inclusion.

In this post, the first of a series on emerging research tools and platforms,  I’ll discuss the forces at play, bringing about this change, and introduce the first of several research platforms that are enabling this future and how you can take advantage of the future, right now.

The problem with (primary) research

Historically, performing primary research has been laden with barriers and inhibitors.  The most common ones - the excuses heard most for not including research in a project - often center around 4 things:

  1. Cost
  2. Timing
  3. Access to Customers/Prospects
  4. Availability of Research Practitioners

Shifting from Legacy Barriers to Next Gen Enablers

Fortunately, the next generation of research platforms are beginning to eat these barriers for lunch. In doing so, whether knowingly or unknowingly, they are borrowing a key page from Jeff Bezos’ playbook that has contributed greatly to Amazon’s dominance in retail, cloud computing and will no doubt be applied to more industries in the future.  In his words…

“I very frequently get the question: 'What's going to change in the next 10 years?' And that is a very interesting question; it's a very common one.

I almost never get the question: 'What's not going to change in the next 10 years?' And I submit to you that that second question is actually the more important of the two -- because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time.

In our retail business, we know that customers want low prices, and I know that's going to be true 10 years from now. They want fast delivery; they want vast selection. It's impossible to imagine a future 10 years from now where a customer comes up and says, 'Jeff I love Amazon; I just wish the prices were a little higher,' [or] 'I love Amazon; I just wish you'd deliver a little more slowly.' Impossible.

And so the effort we put into those things, spinning those things up, we know the energy we put into it today will still be paying off dividends for our customers 10 years from now. When you have something that you know is true, even over the long term, you can afford to put a lot of energy into it.”

Applying Bezos insight to the market for primary research, here are, arguably, the ‘unchanging truths’ that are, thanks to a new generation of platform providers, driving disruption in this industry:

  • Cost
  • Speed
  • Simplicity
  • Richness of Insight

Next gen platforms have taken square aim at these truths and are building businesses that are continuously upping the game for what is possible.  In doing so, they are both democratizing and enhancing primary research.

Next gen research platforms

So, this all sounds good.  “Where can I get me some” you may ask. Without further ado, let's take a look at an example platform bringing the future into the present.

Pollfish - Surveys

Pollfish is a truly delightful survey and polling platform.  It is the ultimate poster child for friction-free research and has enabled Primacy to take on primary research where it once would have been unthinkable or at least, impractical.&

  • What It Is: Pollfsh provides a turnkey mobile-only survey and polling platform combined with audience recruiting.  In terms of credibility, Pollfish has partnered with the NY Times amongst other major media outlets in the past to conduct primary research.
  • Why it’s Friction Free: Pollfish enables you to create simple surveys and polls that can be deployed at a very low cost and fielded in astoundingly short time frames. The user interface and customer service are nothing short of delightful. For example, we recently fielded a survey of 100 educators in Michigan to understand their perceptions of changing auto insurance laws in that state.  The cost was around $250 and the research was completed in a day or so. The study, which took our team only a few hours to develop and analyze, yielded rich and timely insights that were of great value to our team and client.
  • What it’s Good For: Pollfish excels when you need fast, low cost, consumer-focused data using 3rd party recruiting without a complicated question set or segmentation logic.  When these criteria are not met, we will leverage a more robust, but also more costly and time-consuming platform, such as Qualtrics.

While Pollfish has been the most wonderfully disruptive survey platform that we’ve encountered, there are many other tools that go well beyond simple surveys in polls.   In our next post, we will explore a broader set of next-generation platforms that are breaking down barriers and making research close to friction-free. Coming up in the next article on Friction-free Research: 

  • Recollective
  • VoxPopMe
  • And more 

To learn more about Primacy’s research practice, michael.stutman [at] (contact Mike via email here)