Who’d have thought that scary movie cliches offer so many insights on how to conduct a better survey? We did. As a follow-up to one of our favorite webinars, Better Survey Through Scary Movies, here’s the list:
1: Don’t open the door.
In a scary movie, there’s almost always something terrible behind a closed door. When you find yourself shouting “Don’t go in there!” it becomes immediately clear why it’s sometimes better to take it slow.
In real life — and yes, also survey life — you’ll never get anywhere if you don’t get started. If you’re not in a scary movie, open the door and get going.
2: Even B-movies bring their A-game.
Scary movies — especially B-movies — are famous for their low budgets and high returns. Unsteady cameras, dark corners, and not-always-that-special effects can get the job done.
A survey can be a great return on investment, too. Online design, distribution, and analysis in the same tool mean you’re using your resources wisely and getting answers efficiently.
3: Stand back — I’m an expert!
Whether it’s a scientist, a fighter, or some other specialist, the person who jumps up and dives in alone with a know-it-all solution — well, it usually doesn’t end well.
Even if you’re an expert, it’s a bad idea to go it alone. Broaden your understanding and increase your chances of success by utilizing your resources — people, expertise, and experience.
4: Let’s just ask to use their phone.
When you’re lost in the dark and you see a scary house up ahead, definitely knock on the door and ask for help. Whoever’s in there probably won’t be out to get you at all.
Even though it’s important to use resources to achieve your project goals, using the right resources can be the difference between checking the right boxes — and never checking out.
5: Let’s investigate… in the dark!
Hear a sound outside? Why not stumble out in the dark and blindly hope for the best? Yes, that’s a terrible idea.
You’re conducting a research project because you have questions. Still, wandering in blind is a terrible idea. Be prepared for the exploration by learning all you can about your topic before you reach out to your audience.
6: Listen to the music.
Sometimes it’s the music, and sometimes it’s the silence, but scary movies nearly always deliver sound clued to let the audience know what’s about to happen. Unfortunately, the characters usually don’t get the message.
Context matters, and understanding the ongoing experience of your participants ensures that your messages hit the mark rather than turning everyone off. In 2020, this one is especially key — nobody could have anticipated this year’s twists and turns, making it critical to examine the tone and appropriateness of annual or ongoing projects.
7: The crazy guy is always right.
Although the characters inevitably choose to ignore the warning, the bizarre idea shared by someone in the film is actually true: Aliens are abducting people! Zombies are on the way! There’s something hidden in the forest!
The signs are usually there, but it’s up to you to pay attention. Solicit expert advice. Listen up.
8: You’re just a plot twist away from disaster — or salvation.
Why waste time on logic? Anything can happen at any minute — especially as the film goes on. Getting too long? A monster devours everyone. Insescapable scenario? Deus ex machina.
You’re the director of your own show, and the logic is up to you. Set the right rules to guide participants from start to finish, and you’ll avoid getting anyone lost or completely confused.
9: The phone’s out, the car won’t start…
Murphy’s law is doubly true in scary movies: Whatever can go wrong will, and it’ll all happen at once.
What’s your plan?
10: Behind you!
Suddenly, out of nowhere, something reaches out and grabs you. Whether it’s a friend (rare) or a foe (almost always), it’s always a shocker.
Especially when you’re close to the finish line, it can be tricky to ask anyone for feedback. What if they suggest lots of changes? Sure, it might be a little frustrating or even annoying to have to rework or delay your plans, but it’s always better to find out sooner from someone who’s on your side rather than finding out too late from someone else.
11: And then there was one…
The scene opens with a huge party, and you see a few key faces of those who will be major characters. Soon, everyone else fades away mysteriously, and even the major characters start disappearing. Soon enough, there are just a few faces left and they’re fading fast…
Distribution is one of the scariest stages of survey administration. What if you send out the survey and nobody responds? Start with a solid contact list, cleaning all you can to improve its quality. Follow our best practices for email distribution: build better email invitations, choose the right sender name and email address, complete domain authentication and whitelisting, and deliver pre-survey communication to your target audiences.
12: It’s never just the wind.
Spooky sound? It’s probably nothing. Update: It’s something. Always.
As the project goes live, pay attention to every bit of information that comes in. Check out Track Survey. Send reminders. Check in with your audience. Don’t wait!
13: Oh, the suspense!
Sometimes it’s a sound and sometimes it’s a sight, but there’s something in the distance… and then it’s a little closer… and it’s a lot closer… Slowly but surely…
Why wait until your survey closes? Find out what’s going on by using Response Rate or Response Trend Reports and deliver targeted outreach to groups with low response rates. After all, when it’s too late, it’s too late.
14: My flashlight died!
Of course it’s necessary to head into the woods… into the basement… into the mysterious darkness ahead. There’s a quick glimpse of what’s ahead, but then, inevitably the torch flickers out or the flashlight dies. Shucks.
Stop stumbling arund. See the future with dynamic reports.
15: Don’t be a tough guy.
At some point, there’s a character who thinks they can solve the problem — alone, and often through brute force. It usually doesn’t go well.
You don’t need to do it alone. Reach out for help — from your team, from our team, or even from your audience.
16: Keep running.
The monster is coming, there’s a chase scene, and our last surviving character trips. Instead of jumping back up and running for their life, the character pauses to look back — or even better, hides behind a tree. Basically, they give up — and hope for that plot twist.
17: Don’t bury the truth.
The evil spirit has been captured in a book / box / relic of some kind. To make sure it disappears, the remaining character(s) decide to bury the wickedness. No doubt it will stay buried forever. What a relief!
The worst conclusion of any research project is taking all the results and stuffing them in a report that never see the light of day. If you were never going to use the results, why bother asking the questions? Not only is this a great way to waste your time, it’s also a great way to discourage future participation. Come on!
18: There’s always a sequel.
The wicked whatever wakes up / is uncovered / returns. Why bother developing a new plot? Just repeat the same thing!
Learn from your mistakes and keep the conversation going. It makes no sense to just reach out once, and it makes even less sense to repeat the same problems. Keep improving and you’ll build a better understanding of your participants’ experience over time.
What’s your favorite? Share your thoughts with us and your tips might make it into the sequel!