Measuring something is only half the battle
Most business people recognize the importance of doing research. The knowledge gained from studying the market, your customers, your prospective customers, et.al. can mean the difference between success and failure – or worse.
To be sure, there is a lot that goes into doing quality research. First and foremost, you have to ask yourself: what are you trying to find out. Take pricing for example. Do you want to know the highest price customers will pay for a product or service? Or, do you want to learn at what price point will your sales generate the most profit?
In case you’re not sure, re-read the previous two sentences – carefully, if you must. And think it all the way through. The two statements in our pricing example are two very different things.
Of course, how you ask the question(s) is enormously important. We’ve all experienced situations – which seem most prevalent at the ballot box for some reason – where, if you want something, the correct answer is “no.” And vice versa.
If you’re still not discouraged, it’s also vitally important to ask the right audience. If you want to know how many football games a typical American will watch on television on a given weekend, if your sample is 80 percent women, your findings will be in question. The same is true in reverse for skin care products – which are purchased overwhelmingly by women. If your sample is 80 percent men, don’t trust your findings.
The same is true for beach paraphernalia. If you want to know what is popular on the beach, you’ll learn more by asking people who live in California and Florida, as opposed to asking people from Nebraska and North Dakota.
And after you’ve done all that right and collected invaluable data, if you misinterpret your findings, it may be worse than doing no research at all. Misreading your data, or failing to understand it can be more devastating. After all, misreading your data will most likely give you a false sense of security.