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Designing and Conducting a Theater- Style Pretest

There are six steps for designing and conduct- ing theater-style pretests, but many ideas, part- icularly those in Step 2, also are useful for central location intercept interviews. The six steps are as follows:

  • 1.

    Plan the pretest.

  • 2.

    Develop the questionnaire.

  • 3.

    Recruit participants.

  • 4.

    Prepare for the pretest.

  • 5.

    Conduct the pretest.

  • 6.

    Analyze the pretest.

Step 1: Plan the pretest.

Determine your requirements for the following information:

  • What you want to learn

  • When you need the results

  • What your budget is

  • Which contractors are qualified to do this work

  • What criteria participants should be required to meet (Your contractor can help you to determine these criteria.)

  • Which facility you’ll use (Your contractor will make this decision.)

The facility must be large enough to accom- modate all your participants simultaneously. Several video monitors may be needed for all participants to see the program well.

Chapter 3: Gaining and Using Target Audience Insights

You can also rent space, such as a hotel ball- room, if you want to pretest materials among a large number of people. Hotels often have audiovisual equipment available for rent. You must reserve facilities and equipment well in advance of your pretest.

Some market research companies conduct theater-style pretesting. They can provide details about the process they follow in conducting this pretesting.

Step 2: Develop the questionnaire.

Work with your contractor to carefully con- struct the questionnaire. At a minimum, it should contain three parts:

  • Recall and communication of the main idea of pretest materials

  • Audience reaction to pretest materials

  • Demographic characteristics of the participants

Recall and Communication of the Main Idea

The standard questions on recall and com- munication of the main idea are critical to the pretest. They address some of the most important measures of a message’s potential effectiveness:

  • Whether it attracts the audience’s attention (recall)

  • Whether it communicates your main point (main idea)

  • What respondents thought and how they felt when they viewed the ad (e.g., poten- tial persuasiveness and believability)

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