- A large enough group to get a representative sample - If you've got a couple hundred people you are trying to gauge, a poll probably doesn't make sense. If you've got several thousand or more, you might want to consider a poll.
- A basic understanding of what you're polling - This isn't a deathnail if you don't have it, but it is pretty important. If you start talking about something that no one understands, how useful is the feedback?
- A pollster experienced in your efforts - Sometimes national pollsters can't do local polls effectively, and vice versa. Sometimes pollsters who focus on voting populations can't effectively transition into business interests. Make sure your pollster understands and is competent in your field of interest.
Identify your core audience - Figure out where you are going to get the best information that you need. Can you narrow it down and do interviews/ focus groups/ surveys? Can you expand it in order to get great input from a broader perspective.
Educate first - Spend a little pre-marketing to your target audience. Educate them on what you are trying to gauge. Do so dispassionately and without prejudice. Give information not opinion. Then when you do reach out, they are ready to be asked your questions. You can even use the questions as a way to further educate on pros and cons - a good pollster will help you with this.
Interview researchers - don't just use the easiest and most present pollster. Use the one that makes the most sense. If it isn't adding up then reach out to peers, competitors, and find new people to work with on this project.
Yes, I know, that's 6 quick ideas and the title says 5. Well just remember the words of Winston Churchill -
"There are lies, there are damned lies, and then there are statistics."
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