The Biggest and Most Dangerous Marketing Research Mistake

Marketing research has become an essential part of running a successful business, but many business owners will commit the greatest marketing sin.
The Biggest and Most Dangerous Marketing Research Mistake

Marketing research has become an essential part of running a successful business, but many business owners will commit the greatest marketing sin. Yes, we all understand just how important it is to market and we know that research is the most essential aspect. We understand the risks, so why is it that most entrepreneurs still make the same marketing research mistake? Before you start devoting time and effort into marketing research, it’s important that you avoid the most dangerous mistake – confirmation bias. Let me share a quick story.

A high school student (let’s call her Kate) was dealing with symptoms of schizophrenia, so she spoke to a psychologist. During one of the appointments, Kate explained that she had to leave early so that she could read the news that evening. The psychologist wrote down that Kate was “suffering from delusions of being a news broadcaster.”

However, Kate did actually read the news for her high school. The psychologist suffered from a clear case of confirmation bias. She made no effort to confirm her theory because she already expected a mental illness to be at fault.

Confirmation bias can destroy a marketing campaign. It causes us to make huge mistakes when interpreting research. If you have already made your mind up on a specific topic, then you are going to want to blurt out “I knew it!” Rarely will we look for alternative ways of viewing the data in ways that might prove our initial theory wrong.

While there are a lot of mistakes that can be made with marketing research, confirmation bias is the most dangerous because it exploits a flaw in human nature. Everyone dislikes being proven wrong.

“The cost of being wrong is less than the cost of doing nothing.”
                                                                                            – Seth Godin

That quote says it all. Being wrong costs nothing unless it’s combined with confirmation bias, at which point it could cost you everything.

Roger Dooley wrote a great article about this called ‘Why So Much Market Research Sucks.’

It’s important to be careful when researching customer feedback. Look at it from all perspectives, not just yours. Hold follow-up meetings to discuss marketing data so that your entire team has the opportunity to let their voices be heard. In many cases, confirmation bias can be prevented by digging just a little bit deeper, rather than working under the assumption that your initial belief was correct.

How to Avoid Confirmation Bias?

A study performed back in 2013 showed that information bias has a profound effect on the way people will perceive the same data. They will twist data in a way that supports their beliefs, even if it overwhelmingly supports the opposing view. That shows you just how important it is to avoid this dangerous trait. Here are 5 ways to avoid confirmation bias.

  • Stop jumping to conclusions.
  • Identify 3 potential causes for data fluctuations.
  • Learn to flag information that triggers a hypothesis.
  • Try to prove yourself wrong.
  • Investigate further.

Big data is going to become even more important in the coming years so it’s important that you learn to analyse data with an open mind. All of the information available to you is not going to help if you have already made up your mind. Learn to let go of your current beliefs when needed, otherwise your business will not grow.

The bottom line is that there is a lesson that you can learn from others who have made mad decisions.

Be aware of just how dangerous confirmation bias can be while acknowledging that anyone can be susceptible to its powerful influence. You must actively seek to understand information that disagrees with your existing beliefs.

Jacob Haney
Jacob Haney

Jacob Haney is a content marketer presently working with Research Optimus, a business research outsourcing company. A writer by day and a reader by night, he is loathed to discuss himself in the third person but can be persuaded to do so from time to time.