Re: Metrics (Re: How do hiring companies view TW resumes?)

Subject: Re: Metrics (Re: How do hiring companies view TW resumes?)
From: Paul Goble <pgcommunication -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 23 Mar 2010 11:06:59 -0500

Kevin asked some important questions:

> How did you manage to get customers to participate in "an
> elaborate survey"?
> How did you avoid selection bias?

If I recall correctly, participants were randomly chosen from several
magazine subscriber lists, screened to ensure demographic diversity, and
paid handsomely.

How did you validate the responses? (E.g., how did you
> know that some of the answers didn't come from a
> bored techwriter at the customer company? Or a
> disgruntled engineer, or a purchasing rep with a
> sense of humor?)

Since it was done by a Fortune 50 company, the sample size was well into the
hundreds. And the consulting company we used A) had data from other similar
studies, B) had significant statistical expertise, and C) included a few
questions just for validation purposes. This was Data Heaven; I really
don't expect to ever encounter such helpful data ever again.

> What do you (list-members) use for incentive to get
> busy people ... to take time?

For do-it-yourself surveys or customer reply cards, a quarterly drawing for
a popular product works okay (perhaps a gift certificate for Amazon, or a
scientific calculator). Gotta consult with the comptroller or whoever knows
about legal restrictions on such things, however.

Wandering a bit from the topic...organizations of all sizes and types seem
to have lost interest in large-scale, valid statistical market and
demographic analysis. A decade ago, there was a thriving market research
industry, with publications like American Demographics, Current Thoughts and
Trends, the Barna Report, and thick research supplements to Advertising
Age. All gone. Data aggregators, market research companies, geospatial
visualization companies--many gone or struggling. Instead, I hear leaders
citing anecdotes or tiny, dubious "I once read somewhere" studies which
support their preconceived opinions.

Market fragmentation? Laziness? A triumph of Postmodern philosophy? More
than anything, I think it's lack of resources. Most of us--anyone from CEOs
to tech writers--have been forced to cut corners, so we're acutely aware of
"big" things which are undone and which would make a huge difference. We
can't act on "little" details of how to optimize our business. There's no
point in paying to discover, say, a need to improve our indexes when some
products are shipping with no manual at all.

Paul Goble
Omaha, Nebraska
pgcommunication -at- gmail -dot- com

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Metrics (Re: How do hiring companies view TW resumes?): From: Paul Goble
RE: Metrics (Re: How do hiring companies view TW resumes?): From: McLauchlan, Kevin

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