The Death of the Walking Encyclopedia

Posted by Marty McGough on 9/24/15 3:07 PM, Last updated 03/12/2017
Marty McGough

primary vs secondary researchBelieve it or not, when I was a little kid there was no Internet. Shocking, I know. But luckily, I had the next best thing in those days: two very smart, much-older sisters and one brainiac much-older brother who were quite literally walking encyclopedias. So whenever friends (or others) would throw out “stats” as facts, I always had ready help to challenge them. Fact testing, it turns out, was actually a favorite pastime in our household. Eventually, I grew up to become one of the family fact-testers, but I never imagined I would end up using that skill everyday—like I do now at Campos.

While the digital age has simply made information gathering (aka secondary research) easier, more efficient and more productive (so we don’t need to rely on our walking encyclopedia relations, who may have their own biases attached to the information provided), those of us highly practiced at secondary research know this: while the information is out there, it takes tremendous skill and diligence to obtain the right information, and experience working with it, to know what is useful and what isn’t, and what it all means in context to your brand. Synthesizing disparate data quickly into a digestible and actionable report is an invaluable skill that seems, at times, to have been lost in the avalanche of information that is now available.

By analyzing web site content, CEO addresses, annual reports, press releases, white papers, and presentations at conferences, coupled with an analysis of external media and third party-sources such as trade associations, cause-related groups, and polling sites like Gallup, you gain a valid perspective on your standing in the market relative to competitors. Using Bureau of Labor Statistics and Census data, job growth in different areas can be projected, providing guidance on product offerings that will meet expected demand. Add in a sprinkling of commercial sources such as Hoovers and Dun & Bradstreet, and social media monitoring using a robust tool, and you have a 360-degree view of the market at a fraction of the cost of primary research.

My point is that information is out there—and there’s a lot of it—but insightful analysis is a must if you want to leverage this information effectively. On a personal level, this kind of digging and discovery takes me back to the days of an inquisitive (and maybe nerdy) kid, excited and engaged in finding out things he didn’t know, except now I’m simplifying the complex for clients who don’t have the time—or the resources–to do it for themselves.




Topics: Market Research

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