Research and fact-finding are important elements to success in the business world. Truly effective marketing and persuasive rhetoric hinges upon the quality of research businesses put forth as well as rely on. Unfortunately, while the Internet has made research and fact-finding much more accessible and streamlined than it was in the past, the tremendous volume of information available on the Internet also makes it difficult to sort out the reliable research from the unreliable.
Responsible Business Research Will Make You Look More Credible.
Information on the Internet can be misleading. Most commonly, you will find hasty generalizations (prematurely jumping to a conclusion), faulty authority (accepting someone's credentials without careful evaluation of who they are) and false dilemmas (either/or scenarios that suggest only two options are possible). To ensure that you avoid making these mistakes, or avoid using sources of misinformation, check out the five tips below.
5 Tips For Improving Your Business Research:
Tip #1. Examine Generalizations: Hasty generalizations are the source of prejudices and superstitions -- like how walking under a ladder will give you bad luck. They are also easily the most common type of fallacy you will come across, especially online. This can be particularly embarrassing for anyone presenting his or her research data.
Tip #2. Carefully Consider Who Is A Real Authority: We see instances of faulty authority all the time. Certain television commercials are a prime example. How many times have you seen a celebrity -- a sports star, music star or an actor -- sell a product or service completely unrelated to their profession? Yet almost none of them have any relevant credentials to what it is they are endorsing. The same applies to the business world. Whenever you are dealing with authority, evaluate the person's credentials as they relate to whatever it is they are claiming.
Tip #3. Look Out For Extremes: People are quick to buy into false dilemmas because they typically possess an emotional appeal. Unfortunately, they tend to limit the world to two extremes. Take the now cliché phrase, "you are either with us or against us." At first, this may make sense on some base level, but upon further consideration, you should realize that it completely ignores the possibility for any middle ground between the two. Working only in extremes in the business world can be profoundly limiting and damaging.
Tip #4. Look For Hard Figures: Verifiable, proven data speaks for itself. Unfortunately, most people do not look beyond the presence of statistics. What you need to do is ask yourself how a business came up with their numbers, or to check the numbers against their primary source - that is, the original, documented research. When it comes to numbers, the process -- how the information was arrived at -- is just as important as the information itself. This is why many businesses use credible research firms.
Tip #5. Rely On Database Sources: Unlike a cursory Google search, which will bring up any result that contains your search query, databases offered by the likes of Dun & Bradstreet, Standard & Poor's or Gartner Group will provide the previously mentioned first party information for review, backed by background information and research techniques/methodology.
Executive Summary: Being misinformed can damage your image and authority. Although anyone can claim himself or herself as an industry expert, you should look at their background, their positions on past issues and their website to help determine their real expertise. You also need to be aware of the common mistakes most people make when presenting researching -- doing so will help you avoid making them yourself.