By Don Phipps, CEO and Founder, Applied Marketing Research
Applied recently completed product clinics for a tractor manufacturer. The target population was exurban property owners who owned between 1 and 50 acres, owned tractors of a specific brand and horsepower, and did not actively farm their properties but worked in other jobs.
This project presented some interesting and simultaneous challenges:
- Time frames were extremely tight.
- Where would we hold the clinics?
- Once a metro area was chosen, could we find a facility that would be accessible to our target population?
- How difficult would the recruit be for the target population?
- And, what was the population incidence within reasonable driving distance of the facility?
Initially, three markets were chosen for the clinics. Once they were selected, the search was on regarding facilities. At the beginning, we believed fairgrounds would be the most accessible and well-known locations and they were approached first. The problem was the clinics were targeted for October-November and as it turns out, fairgrounds are super busy during this time. Therefore, scheduling the clinics at fairgrounds proved to be untenable.
One of my colleagues suggested we consider talking to equestrian stables. Equestrian stables are typically owned by entrepreneurs and, as it turned out, in two of the markets, we were able to find stables willing to rent us space in barns or equipment facilities for the clinics. However, we were unable to find a stable in the third market. We decided the best approach was to reach out to local officials within the market area. Luckily this paid off – a local Chamber of Commerce was able to locate a facility for us at a nearby farm.
Once the facilities were located and rented, we pressed ahead with recruiting. The client indicated that about half of the participants could be recruited from a list they would provide, but upon receiving the list, we discovered that the list was dated and not geographically centered on the site of the clinics. So, we were forced to consider other means. Two strategies bore fruit. One was employing random digit dialing within zip codes that appeared likely to contain the population of interest and that were within a reasonable commute to the facility. The other was to contact local area marketing research firms and enlist their help in recruiting. By combining these two approaches, we were able to fully recruit the study.
In conclusion, low incidence exurban populations can be recruited successfully. Two things are required – the willingness to come up with creative solutions to problems that may arise and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances as necessary.