Top 40 Business Tips #10: Research More


Why is it that companies are quick to run meaningless ad-hoc research based on dubious research techniques, but ignore the wealth of data that is already available?

In this edition of BTalk I examine several types of research. First, desk research. Everyone in your business should be doing this as a matter of course. Take the salesperson, for example, who calls a prospect but doesn’t know diddly squat about who they are. Art Sobczak says you don’t have to look far to get a few gems of information that can help drive a sale over the line.

If you do want to research customers then there’s a strong case to focus less on quantative surveys and more on techniques like neuroscience which, Professor Richard Silberstein tells us, helps to understand the emotive responses of customers and prospects. Most research asks us to make rational decisions, but we rarely act like that in reality.

Then there’s the research based on data you have in-house. Noel Pettitt says a well implemented data warehouse can help any business operate more efficiently. It can feed timely reports based on operational data and other information gathered by the organisation, as well as alerting you to abnormalities that you need to act on. In short, it allows you to run your organisation based on information and not gut-feel.

Online is also helping us to gather information including, increasingly, what’s being said about us. This is becoming a science in itself. For example, Bernardo Huberman at HP Labs in California was able to accurately predict box office revenues by tracking the volume and sentiment of comments on Twitter.

Finally there’s a form of research that’s commonly neglected — competitor intelligence. Babette Bensoussan reckons Australian businesses are worse at this than most. She tells us where to go looking for information about what your competitors are up to. Then the test lies in how you distill those findings and pass them on to people who can act on it.

So, as you can see, there’s an immense amount of research that can be done. Without it you are working blindfolded. That doesn’t seem a very sensible way of moving forward — who knows what you’re about to step in to!

First published on CBS News

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