The Problem with DIY Survey Projects

This is tough to admit.

We love surveys. We’re all about surveys. We live, eat and breathe surveys.

And we think you should love surveys, too.

But the fact is, survey projects are extremely delicate. They’re easy to mess up. One little mistake can make your entire dataset completely useless. And, unfortunately, it’s more than likely your DIY survey project is going to be a total waste of time.

So there you have it. Industry secret.

But does this mean market research surveys aren’t worth doing?

Nope. In fact, what’s funny about this is most of our clients are about 95% of the way to a good survey by the time they find us.

What does that mean? It means they know what questions they want to ask. It means they know how they want to ask them. It means they know who they want to ask and what they want their results to look like.

So why just 95%? Why not 100%?

Because surveys are about precision. The language in your questions must be absolutely perfect (not a shred of ambiguity) and your targeting must be perfect (not just close).

This is where professionals can help. That last-mile tune-up is what turns a decent survey into a great survey.

At PeopleFish, every one of our clients’ surveys is programmed by a survey research analyst. Word for word, our analysts migrate our clients’ survey instruments—typically a Word document or email text — into a field-ready survey instrument. As they do this, they review every question and answer option to make sure nothing is left to chance—no ambiguous language or unnecessarily confusing phrases. No “double-barreling” or mismatched question types.

In fact, we’ve codified this practice into a guiding rule: WE DON’T FIELD SURVEYS FOR CLIENTS THAT WE WOULDN’T FIELD FOR OURSELVES.

This means you can rest assured that your PeopleFish survey results are real-world accurate and ready for action. No wondering if you asked the questions properly or if respondents were perhaps confused by how you phrased something.

We apply this same level of analytical rigor to survey fielding strategies. Fielding surveys to consumers is, of course, our primary function. It’s what we do best. That said, we carefully review every client’s fielding strategy to ensure we’re reaching the right people with our surveys.

For example, say you’ve designed a new toy for toddlers and preschoolers. You come to PeopleFish with a request to target your survey to “parents of young children” to gather their opinions about your product concept. It’s they, after all, who will be buying this product, right?

Well, it’s not that simple. Consider that, based on secondary consumer research, mothers are five times more likely than fathers to buy toys for their children. And more than half of a child’s toys are given to him or her as a gift from other family members.

With that in mind, who you really ought to be targeting is anyone who regularly buys toys for children—not necessarily just “parents of young children.”

The bottom line is that this becomes confusing. But we can account for all of this nuance when we field your survey. It’s what we pride ourselves in doing well — adding value to our clients’ survey projects by doing everything 100%, absolutely, entirely correct.

Got a product idea? Test the waters at We help startups and innovators survey their target market the right way, the first time. No more wasted time and money with confusing, DIY survey tools.