Today’s Problems and Our Vision

How we overcome today’s challenges with community engagement and market research

Source: Giphy

If you hadn’t noticed, there’s a lot of angst in Idaho right now. As our communities face new (and old) challenges and opportunities, citizens feel like they’re not being listened to, institutions are flustered and scrambling, and new developments just seem to get people more riled up.

Do you ever wonder how things got this way? We at Make Idaho Better think it’s a crisis of community engagement and market research.


Community Engagement

This is when organizations work with the public to make improvements, usually through in-person forums. In theory, this gives everybody the opportunity to weight in on issues and be a part of the solution. In reality, they can be more of a communication exercise or vent session — people say what’s bothering them, the organization says “we hear you,” and things go on as they were.

Unfortunately, it’s never everybody that shows up to these events. Because not everyone can free their schedule and many have more pressing issues to address, it’s usually mostly the “noisy 1%” that attend. These folks are hyper engaged, strongly opinionated, and very vocal. Whether you hold public events or not, our leaders hear from these people.

This leaves leaders in a quandary. What do the “quiet 99%” think? Do you assume it’s the same or different than the noisy 1%? Either position could be disastrous, but you don’t have the data. You have to follow your gut, make a guess, and move forward. Or, be tempted to continue on and hope things change on their own.

More often than not, the latter feels like the safer option, but people are getting tired of that. They’re feeling like they’re not being taken seriously. They get frustrated, many disengage, views become polarized, they become misinformed, and anecdotes can become prevailing narratives.

For example, check out some of the results of a recent workshop on the topic of Boise growth. Lots of people noted that there’s a “weakening relationship” between the City and neighborhoods, and there’s “not enough input” or transparency. That sucks.

Boiseans acknowledging things getting worse
Boiseans wanting their voices heard

Market Research

The goal of market research is to understand what people really want and need. It’s about getting beyond that noisy 1% and understanding most people you serve. You can do a variety of things like interviews, focus groups, and surveys to arrive at these findings. And you should!

But, wait. There’s a problem here too. It’s super expensive! Working with professionals to host focus groups and conduct good surveys routinely costs tens of thousands of dollars. That’s outside the budget of most organizations. Or, even if you can afford it, you can only do it maybe once every year or two.

That’s a big problem. When you only do research infrequently, you only get one chance to ask all your questions, so the list gets very long, and that hurts your response rates. Also, the data you do collect gets stale pretty quickly — you have a snapshot in time, but you can’t tell when things are changing, and even if you ask the same thing again in the future, it mostly just shows you a change happened. But now you’re behind the curve, not in front of it.

On the bright side, a lot of powerful, affordable tools are available like SurveyMonkey and UserInterviews.com. They put the power of research professionals in your hands and make it possible for you to do it yourself. But the catch is that you don’t know how to do it. And this isn’t your full-time job. You’re going to give it a try because this is important, but you’re not confident that you’re doing it right.

Our Vision

Organizations should be able to engage their constituents and not go crazy (or broke) at the same time.

We believe the ideal solution is an affordable, sophisticated research platform run by experienced professionals that continually reach a broad cross-section of your local communities. It would provide a simple, easy way to engage the quiet 99% without breaking the bank, or requiring you to do everything yourself.

This would allow you to deeply understand the problems you’re up against, identify the right solutions, and implement them with confidence because you know the data backs you up.

We built that.

How It Works

We’ve reimagined traditional community engagement and market research. We created a following of engaged Idahoans that want to be better informed and to be a part of solutions to problems. We give them that opportunity through surveys, results, and analysis on important local issues. We make their voices heard and show them what everyone else is thinking too.

And we bring this data to leaders at local organizations. As our clients, organizations can have their research questions included in our surveys, we can provide deeply contextualized reports and analysis using important demographics (like age, gender, income, or location), and if our subscribers agree to it, we can connect them with individuals for further targeted research. We do all this at a fraction of the price of our competition.

We love Idaho, and we want to make it better. We believe that better-engaged, better-informed communities are the answer. We think this leads to more civilized, more solution-focused dialogue. That’s what we want, and that’s what we’re working towards.

If that’s what you want too, please join us! The more participation we get, the better, and more impactful, the results will be.


(This still image is for the cover photo. Gifs don’t work for that…)