Let me show you an image and ask you some questions. Do complete the questionnaire and all will be revealed later at the end of this post!
You might have established that I am not a qualified automotive designer, researcher or marketer. But what do you do when you do want to know answers to questions like these?
Enter Amazon 's Mechanical Turk service.
Their FAQs describe the service as follows:
Amazon Mechanical Turk is a marketplace for work that requires human intelligence. The Mechanical Turk service gives businesses access to a diverse, on-demand, scalable workforce and gives workers a selection of thousands of tasks to complete whenever it's convenient.
Amazon Mechanical Turk is based on the idea that there are still many things that human beings can do much more effectively than computers, such as identifying objects in a photo or video, performing data de-duplication, transcribing audio recordings, or researching data details. Traditionally, tasks like this have been accomplished by hiring a large temporary workforce (which is time consuming, expensive, and difficult to scale) or have gone undone.
I like to think of Mechanical Turk as the community I can turn to when I have a lot of stuff to "chunk" through that a computer couldn't do for me, and for when I need to elicit responses from a wide range of the public without all the profiling that normally accompanies market research. Or a quick acid test if you like.
As marketers mostly deal with things that aren't black or white, ones or zeroes, I thought a quick post about the availability of this service might help you.
Which brings me to another incredibly useful service... Google Docs. You may well know of this collection of applications available through your browser, and have used it for a few documents and spreadsheets in your time, but I want to flag Google Docs Forms specifically.
This service allows you to create a Web-based form incredibly easily... no coding skills required. And even more usefully, you can email the form or embed it in a webpage or blog post and then sit back and watch the results collate in a Google Docs spreadsheet that's automatically created for you.
You will have guessed by now that the questionnaire above was created just this way, which brings me to the final triumph for Google in delivering this service... you can output the results as they happen with a wide variety of widgets as you can see below...