In your last lesson we talked about how to start gathering your primary research. In today we are going to talk about what should be included in your secondary research.
As I mentioned in your last lesson, secondary research is data gathered by other people about your topic of interest. Conducting secondary research is an important start to gathering marketing research. The trick is that you need to find reputable sources for the information, understand whether or not they have an agenda outside of spreading the truth, and then confirm that information with your own primary research.
– Finding Sources
Before you even get started, you need to know where to get the information from. You want to identify valid sources of information that will work for your needs. Places that are government, educational, and industry outlets work well. Be careful about sources with a particular agenda because they may twist the information to match their own needs.
– Gathering Information
You’ll put together public data and other information from organizations and industry to develop a start to the secondary research you’re conducting. If you ask yourself what you want to find out and then collect information that answers that question, it’ll be easier to know what to keep.
– Normalizing Information
Sometimes you’ll find conflicting information from different sources. Take a look at that data closely to be sure that the interpretation that you found is accurate in terms of what was really collected. You may need to throw out some sources in favor of others that you deem more accurate.
– Analyzing Information
Once you’ve determined that the information you’ve collected is accurate, fair and representative of your market, you can put it together in a way that’s easy to interpret. Using words, plus graphics and images, is often the best way to make the information understandable. What’s more, you’ll want to determine whether you’re putting the information together for yourself to use internally or for your audience.
– Understand the Advantages and Disadvantages of Secondary Research
Secondary research has the advantage of being a fast, cost-efficient way to gather data easily, and it has a high level of value. But often it’s very general, and not really indicative of your targeted audience’s wants and needs. You’ll have to do primary research to make sure it’s accurate.
– Use Technology to Help
Today, you can use technology to help you, such as accessing various online sources like the US Census via the net so that you can just download the information. It’s amazing what is out there if you know where to look, now that you can do it online.
– Sources and Strategies
If you’re not sure where to start, the best place is with a government entity that collects and publishes data about various audiences. Next, look to trade journals, academic research, and with industry experts. You can also ask your colleagues and associates for help with brainstorming before you get started.
– Time Yourself
They say that if you spend more than 10 to 15 minutes trying to find something online, it doesn’t exist. But, maybe you’re not using the right search terms. Brainstorm at least ten to twenty search terms about your subject matter before starting your search. However, don’t spend too much time on searching because you need to spend more time on analyzing.
When you are conducting secondary research, follow leads and look for information in public areas like libraries, government entities, trade journals, and other reputable places before you get hung up on any type of data that you collect.
That’s it for today’s lesson. In your next lesson we will be talking about some research tools you can use to help you understand your target market even better.
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