Guest Post: Seven Tips for Prepping Small (vs. Big) Data Collection (Part 2 of 2)

This week, Tom Sommers follows up from his post, “Say Buh-Bye to Big Talk about Big Data” and shares key steps to take before you start the data collection process. 

Seven Tips for Prepping Small (vs. Big) Data Collection

By Tom Sommers 

Previously, I offered recommendations for using “small” data to make common business decisions (e.g. identifying awareness of your brand, preference for your brand, finding untapped potential among your customers, or testing advertising effectiveness, etc.).

Before plunging into a data solution, below are some preliminary tips to start the journey and help you avoid costly and time-consuming errors.

Seven Tips for Your Data-Collection Process

  • Prioritize Objectives – Clearly outline and prioritize your business objectives/challenges – misstated objectives result in useless data.
  • Distinguish Objectives vs. Goals – Objectives are the problems to solve and goals are the desired end points, i.e., $X in profit, Y in sales volume, and Z consumers who recall seeing your advertisement.
  • Why? – Ask yourself, “Why do I want to do this research?  What do I want to attain?”  If you don’t first ask these questions, during the results presentation, your boss(es) will likely ask, “Why did you do this study?  Why did we spend the money?  What did this get for us?”
  • Seek Outside Help – Locate a reputable consulting firm with experience in your sector where you trust your point person to be an objective partner. Once you’ve finalized the objectives, the consultant can design an appropriate qualitative or quantitative data research solution.
  • Know the Business Question to Answer with Your Data – For each objective and survey question, know how you’re going to use the results before asking the question.  Again, know what you’re going to do with the results.  “Just because” is an expensive and time-sapping reason to include a question.  What branding, marketing, finance, etc. question do you want to answer with the results?
  • Make Recommendations – Identify internal and external analysts to interpret your data and make them actionable with next-step recommendations.  You don’t want to present the results only to have your senior leadership say, “Well, so what..?”
  • Find a Coach – Ask your consulting partner to help coach your internal teams on using and making the data actionable.  It serves no one to pay thousands of dollars for research and then have the results sit unread in the cloud.

Data and research can be daunting, unless you have outside help.  So, the next time you are presented with a difficult business challenge, don’t panic and assume you have to go the big-data route.  There are many, simpler, less complex solutions – you just have to ask for help to get started.


Tom SommersTom Sommers, Principal of Explorations & Insights, a Washington, DC area consulting firm with marketing-research and communications expertise supporting Fortune 500 firms and advertising/PR agencies.  He is a contributing blogger, writer, strategist, and weekend yogi. Follow him on Twitter @tomsommers1.




by McKinley Marketing Partners