The most important piece of any marketing activity is probably your least favorite: research. An important goal of inbound marketing is to educate your consumer and to do that you yourself must be educated. While years of experience and perhaps some trial and error may have given you that education, there is still much to learn – and that is where research comes in. Whether you’re doing research to complete buyer personas or digging into the facts for your next blog post, research is a vital component of the process. Here are some of the best practices for research:
Have a goal.
What are you researching and why? Keep a specific question or goal in mind while you’re doing your research. This will help to stop you from getting bogged down in incidental information or getting distracted by juicy but irrelevant details. Research can take up a lot of time, so you want to be as efficient as possible. Maintain an outline for your research along with your goal. You can add to the outline as you go, noting interesting but not-quite-ready-for-primetime topics that you may want to explore later, outside of your current research session. Stay focused on your goal.
Use multiple sources.
When I was in journalism school, the rule was five sources – and at least three of them had to be human. Make sure that the information you get from one source is verifiable with another.
Break it up.
Pace yourself. Don’t try to research every piece of your subject at once. Create an outline and break your research into manageable chunks. As you do this, you will find yourself better understanding the big picture.
If you’re doing research online, remember that anyone, anywhere can say anything. For instance, did you know that in 1945 it was illegal for women in Boise, Idaho to cross the street without holding their husband’s hand? Sounds almost crazy enough to be true – except that I obviously just made it up because that is ridiculous. While you may not have to worry about such a silly example popping up during your research, it’s always best to take information with a grain of salt until you can prove it or verify it through another source.
There you have it. Now you are ready to go forth and research! Do you have any concerns about the research for your next project? Maybe I can help. Shoot me an email: email@example.com.