On-site research

Why on-site research is important and how to tackle it

Author
Portrait von Christin Hock. | © punkt & komma
Christin Hock
Content editor
Imagine the following situation: You’re a content writer and your task is to get the website of a big Austrian holiday destination up to scratch in terms of its content. After fleshing out the personas together with your customer, defining the goals and talking about the topics, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty: the writing process

Website, blog, company folders, magazine articles, social media posts … there’s usually a flood of information that can be found across various media. Sometimes the material you can work with is great, sometimes it’s totally redundant and superfluous. Sifting through it and selecting the right info already takes lots of tedious work. 
And then you start writing: “Impressive mountain summits, stunning scenic views, lush green meadows and perfectly groomed slopes as far as the eye can see.” Sounds like a beautiful resort but, at the same time, a little trite. The question that arises is: Are there any hidden “gems” that aren’t mentioned in the info folders? What makes the region stand out? 

If you’d like to be an exemplary content writer and have a little time on your hands, you should definitely do some research on site and get a closer look at the resort’s people, nature and culture. There are plenty of added benefits to on-site research that we’ll tell you about now – and we’ll let you in on how to best prepare yourself! 
Ein offener Schreibblock mit Kugelschreiber von punkt & komma. | © punkt & komma

3 reason for doing research on site

First-hand insights on the company, people and location
Even if you’ve got a vivid imagination, can empathize well with people and have a clear picture of the region in mind without ever having been there – it’s never quite the same as seeing the landscape and people “live”. That’s the only way to experience the atmosphere first-hand, to feel the spirit. And to get exclusive insights into the company and the region. 
You might learn more about things that your customer takes for granted and would never have thought to mention but that are actually incredibly important. Or you can convince them to include and build on important topics. 

An example from punkt & komma’s treasure trove of experiences: Our customer wasn’t sure whether the topic of “accessibility on holiday” should be addressed on his website. On-site research showed: There’s hardly any other holiday resort that does quite as much for the handicapped. Our customer wasn’t even aware of that.  

What happened afterwards? We created a content page with all the important info for guests with disabilities and thus were able to reach a new target group. 
Foto von einem Paar beim Schneeschuhwandern in den Bergen | © punkt & komma
A direct line: Customer interaction done right!
Research on site includes more than just exploring the region. Talk to your customer, build a relationship! If customer interaction rests on a firm basis of trust, understanding and commitment, these relationships might last for a lifetime. Answer questions and show real interest in the answers! Important: Stay authentic! The only thing you’re selling is yourself … 
Zwei Mitarbeiterinnen von punkt & komma beraten. | © punkt & komma
Easy and fast: collection of topics
Research is a fundamental prerequisite to find and develop topics for popular content. Usually, the internet is used for that. We say: A combination of both is the secret sauce! If you talk to the people on site, you’ll gather inspiration and ideas that you will be able to use one way or another, later on – be it for your next blog post or Facebook post. 

In a nutshell: Thanks to on-site research … 
  • you’ll improve the quality of your content,
  • you can convey emotions better in your texts,
  • you’ll be able to select the right information faster and easier thanks to the insights you’ve gained, 
  • you’ll create a basis of trust with your customer, 
  • and you’ll get plenty of impressions that will spark new ideas and additional topics. 

By the way: This holds true not just for the tourism industry! If you write for customers from other industries, on-site research is incredibly valuable as well! 
A quick how-to guide for your research

What you should do before your appointment

  • Gather important info! You should collect all the info you can find beforehand. Be it via the website, newspapers, magazines, social media, etc. This gives you a first impression and you’re better prepared when you meet your customer. 
  • Write down questions! What makes the region, the company, the target group or the personas stand out? What makes the customer unique? You can use the standard W-questions as a guiding tool. Eventually, you’ll be able to support your questions with your observations. 
  • To go, please! You should always have a notepad, pen, audio recorder and camera with you. This makes it easier to structure your thoughts afterwards and to make sure that no info is lost. It’s always useful to have something to aid your memory.
Ein offener Schreibblock mit Kugelschreiber von punkt & komma. | © punkt & komma
What you should do on site
  • Grab the goodies! Usually, companies have folders, flyers, brochures etc. lying around. If not – you should ask for them! They can give you additional input that makes the writing process easier for you later on. 
  • Take notes! Jot down the most important observations and statements! 
  • Show interest! Ask questions and try to understand the customer. Once you’ve built some trust, all subsequent communication will be much easier. 
  • Ask follow-up questions! There was something you didn’t understand? Some miscommunication happened? Bring that up and resolve any problems. It’s best to do that face-to-face and while you’re there.
Verfassen von SEO-Texten. | © punkt & komma
What happens afterwards
  • Keep a record. Write down – ideally, right after your visit – what your impressions were and collect your thoughts! You’ll see: The texts will almost write themselves!

In case you’re suffering from writer’s block after this flood of information, new impressions and ideas, you should check out our 10 tips to beat writer’s block! Happy writing! And if you’re curious what an on-site research day can look like, click here

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