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Hard to Reach, Not Unreachable

Why building methodical approaches matter so much with niche audiences.

Creating insights programs can take a great deal of effort. From mapping out the outcomes, to pulling together all the planning and logistics details, there are many factors at play. When needing to engage with target segments through primary research, finding the right participants can add an additional layer of complexity. And when the target segments become more complex and seemingly ‘hard to reach’ there is even more planning and preparation needed.

Key factors to consider when approaching and recruiting hard to reach audiences:

· Over plan at the start: In some instances, you can start with a basic framework when recruiting and layer in details as you move along. However, with hard-to-reach audiences you must start with all potential considerations at the very start, given the opportunity for nuances along the way.

· Manage size expectations- Knowing that the group is hard to reach, and therefore unique, there is simply a smaller universe to recruit from and therefore N sizes (and expectations) must be metered).

· Plan for longer timelines and more touchpoints- With hard-to-reach audiences you should not expect to execute recruit efforts with a ‘rush’ timeline. Planning for longer timelines is much more realistic and adding touchpoints along the way helps to address problems that may arise.

· Pivot, pivot, pivot! – With complexity comes flexibility. The more you move along with the recruit or study the more you learn, and it is important to change approaches when needed to ensure optimal outcomes.

· Get creative- Tried and true approaches may simply not work, when it comes to more difficult segments, creativity is key and may require trying out new venues or approaches to find the right participants.

· Over recruit/worst case scenario planning: To the degree that it is possible to over-recruit, it is important to have some ‘back-ups’ available in the case that participants drop out or are unavailable at the last minute. It is better to be safe than sorry.

Keeping Niche Audiences Engaged

And once the niche audiences are identified and in place, the next step is making sure that they remain engaged throughout the insights exploration. To do this it is important to be completely immersed in the subject matter or topic at hand. You cannot assume that the same tactics will work from one engagement to the next, it is important to continue to check in on the process and build rapport throughout.

1. Check in Early, and Often: Even if it’s only 2 weeks from recruitment to exploration kick-off, a lot can happen in a little about of time. It is important to feed participants insights, check-ins, information, or just general knowledge along the way.

2. Showcase Participants as the Experts: Because they are! A little appreciation can go a long way, and it’s very important to make that appreciation very clear to participants.

3. Never Stop Learning: Each engagement is an opportunity to learn, grow and change- and with niche audiences it is important to realize that you may develop tactics in approach, but you will never have it fully figured out.

Need help accessing hard to reach audiences? We would love to chat! Reach out to us at

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