By Alice Verberne

Big Data sounds sexy. It makes you seem savvy and smart. But before you cozy up to big data, consider why following a trend may not work for you.

1. BIG – Big Data has problems: first it is big. Ever run around a super-store looking for something specific and waste a lot of time? Well, big data is like that too. It can be hard to find what you need.

Whether you are ready to invest in a bricks and mortar business like a daycare center, an online shop selling art or are running for political office, you need the same thing: VERY SPECIFIC DATA.

Be aware that Big Data may be based on the bias of the company gathering statistics to get a result they want instead of specific customer evaluation. The most reliable way to get information about your customer is to ask them directly: The voice of your customer must be heard. Use those insights when making costly decisions concerning your business.

2. GENERIC – Be sure to not let big data water-down your stats. Before you drop your cash on numbers ask questions, like: Who is being polled? Are the numbers being pulled from a specific demographic or are they some indiscriminate stats from the web? Remember the basic rule of marketing: “Know Thy Customer”.

So, let’s say you want to open a daycare center. Some of the info that you need to know would be how many people in your area have children at the right age group and what roads do the parents take to get to work. You need to figure out where to rent your space and if you have enough customers to make the business a success. Market research expert George Brezny says it is pretty easy through Predictive Customer Research, which can drill down to specific customer insights using survey tools like Qualtrics.”

Brezny goes on to say that entrepreneurs can also put together market assessments using market research databases and secondary research using ESRI, MRI, SIMMONS and Statista.  All can be used to identify future trends and customer needs so that entrepreneurs can make the right decisions instead of just going on a hunch. They are also low-cost and save time.

3. SOURCE – Make sure the person gathering the data is credible. In order to know that your data is not skewed, ask questions like: Who is being polled, where does it come from, how is it gathered, and what is behind the numbers? Big data may seem like a cheap and easy solution, but could cost more in the long run depending on how it was gathered and assembled. Getting research done by a pro may sound expensive, but it is sort of like having an accountant do your taxes. It is really not that expensive and many businesses make costly moves based on gut-feeling instead of statistics based on customer demand.

Find out more about demographics concerning market, trade and competition at www.thevocexpert.com.

Alice Verberne is a consultant for GB Marketing Research Solutions, a consortium of marketing research subject matter experts with over 30-years experience in market research programs. GB uses AGILE market research to innovate, monitor and take action across the entire marketing continuum. If Arby’s has the beef … GB has the right tools to help you find your customer’s voice.