Part 9 of 10: Tips to Writing The Perfect Survey

Lessons Learned from Programming 2,000 Surveys Over 20 Years

You can find the start of this series here. As you are going through this article, please 👍 and share if you find things useful. 

Tip 9: How to Word Your Questions

Questions are the absolutely hardest part of writing a survey and there are volumes on how to word questions so that you get the intended answer. I have been in more than a few board presentations where a board member wants to know the actual question that was asked of respondents.

“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.” — Voltaire

Consider this question…

Would you be willing to pay a lot more for a Nike shoe endorsed by Michael Jordan vs the same Nike shoe w/o the endorsement? 

That was basically the question asked by researchers when Nike was deciding if Jordan’s endorsement was worth it. The answer they got back was, “No way would I pay more for a shoe just because it has someone’s name on it.”

In the second round of research they asked the same question with a twist…

Which of these two shoes would you purchase? The Nike Air Jordan’s for $68 or Nike for $30?

And that, my friends, was the right question. Instead of being directly asked about the value they were asked about the product. It might seem like a small difference but it has HUGE implications to your data.

“I’m sorry, my responses are limited. You must ask the right question.” — Dr. Lanning’s Hologram

For now, just keep in mind that words often times mean different things to each of us and it is important to make sure your question is crystal clear. I’ll frequently have my 11 year old read a survey to ensure it is addressing all angles.


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