How does creativity in research actually work?

Creativity can undoubtedly help us stand out in a busy marketplace. Creativity in research also fits here. And, after all, don’t we all want our research to make an impact and be relevant? That’s where creativity in research can help, but what does it mean to be creative, and how can teams strive for more creativity?

In this article, I discuss the following:

What is creativity in research?

Creativity is about finding a way of doing something differently. Sometimes that’s more subtle. Other times it’s more distinct. Either way, being creative can engage people – internal teams, stakeholders, and consumers.

Creativity means that we are finding a new and engaging way to stand out, and in the age of survey fatigue that’s more important than ever.

Creativity makes things more interesting.

“So much research – it’s not bad, but it’s just not interesting,” said Daniel Berkal, SVP of research at The Palmerston Group, on an episode of the market research podcast “Reel Talk: The Customer Insights Show.” “There’s always a tactic you can add to your work to make things more interesting. And that might be what the essence of creativity is.”

Read next: The importance of genuine relationships to understand customers

Why is creativity in research important?

“I like creativity because, after years of working in market research and seeing the same things repeatedly, I like keeping things a little bit different,” said Daniel.

Creativity helps keep teams engaged in the process. In turn, those teams then have a chance to carry that momentum through and engage customers who participate in the research and other stakeholders who review the report about the study.

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The strategy behind being creative

Daniel said there is value in doing different things from the competition.

“Our business is all about the sizzle and the steak,” Daniel said. “There’s the actual learning new things, but there is also the engagement.”

To see if creative changes or steps work in a project, ask these questions:

  • How is this action benefiting the project and business?
  • Consider the cost and the return.
  • Does this add value?
  • Would you tell somebody about this? Are people excited enough to tell somebody about the project when it’s appropriate?

Being creative in research has to happen throughout the entire process. It’s not just “turning on creativity” for a short period and then moving on. So that includes being creative in the strategy portion when we conduct the research and report the results to stakeholders.

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Strategies to be creative

At a high level, there are many ways to be creative. Just think about where you can update processes or pleasantly surprise participants at times when it makes sense.

It’s possible to be creative in several stages of the research process, including the following:

Recruitment of participants

Think differently about how to recruit participants.

“You might recruit conflict or very polarized groups just to see if that tension might play out in better responses,” Daniel said.

Length of surveys

Consider looking at the length of the research. Maybe an interview could be more concise. Different research methods can also be creative and help a survey stand out. Think about those feedback buttons at airport security in the United States. The first time I saw them, they got my attention.

Read next: What to do with incomplete survey responses?

Reporting results

Market research results can do the most good when used to drive business action. That might include presenting the results to other stakeholders in the company, and doing that creatively can increase our chances of making those results memorable.

Read next: Ways to present data to help drive business results

Daniel said that one creative way might be to create an internal podcast episode highlighting the results that busy executives can listen to on their way to work. That episode can also include soundbites from real consumers if you recorded them or conducted video research.

“That’s a very effective way to present new information,” he said.

To be creative in research, we sometimes have to move away from how “it’s always been done.” That means we must look at ways to evolve our experience for the team creating the surveys, the consumers participating in the research, and the teams using the results to make business decisions.

“But there’s a lot of ‘this is the right way of doing something,'” said Jenn Mancusi, host of “Reel Talk” and Voxpopme’s CRO. “And there are some right ways to do certain things, and then there are things where you can have some flexibility and freedom to be creative.”

Please don’t make it unnecessarily complex but build a strategic process, value creativity, and look for ways to make your research more successful and impactful.

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