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Educating your customers and prospects is a great way to generate the right kind of leads — and, often, to fulfill your organization’s content marketing mission.
Many CMI contributors have written about the vital role that education plays as part of a powerful content marketing strategy. Schneider Electric’s Energy University is a free, online, educational resource that provides vendor-neutral courses on energy efficiency and other information that helps organizations improve their energy efficiency. In addition to serving as a helpful resource, Energy University also generates millions in lead opportunities globally, as courses are translated into over 13 languages.
Opening up an entirely new, effective lead generation channel is a marketer’s dream —so how did Energy University do it?
For example, when people understand the refrigeration cycle, they’re going to come away with a better understanding of cooling products, overall. Key takeaway: Content focused on customer education can benefit your organization in ways that reach far beyond the sales and marketing department.
Schneider Electric brings the right thinkers to the table to ensure each course is packed with useful takeaways — Lorna heads up a dedicated team of in-house educators who have Master’s degrees in subjects such as instructional design and adult education.
Key takeaway: Your competitors may be blogging, tweeting, and writing white papers, but are they providing quality, comprehensive continuing education? Key takeaway: To build trust, ensure that your educational materials would apply no matter which product or service your audience members prefer to use.
Energy University creates brand-agnostic technical drawings to illustrate a product’s functionality. The education team draws information from college textbooks, reliable sources in the public domain, and in-house subject matter experts.
Key takeaway: When your content marketing program relies on education, the information you distribute must be accurate and beyond reproach.
Key takeaway: If you invest the time and effort necessary to gain accreditation for your educational content programs, it likely will pay dividends in the consumer trust and support your organization gains.
Key takeaway: Any educational program should work together with all of your other marketing efforts — that way, both audiences grow. As Schneider Electric has grown and acquired other companies in the last decade, Lorna has observed “a real corporate emphasis on creating one Schneider Electric brand. Energy University — and the educational content marketing strategy it was founded on — has reached the unique and elusive point where money and mission are in alignment. Join Over 150,000 of your Peers!Get daily articles and news delivered to your email inbox and get CMI’s exclusive e-book Launch Your Own Content Marketing Program FREE!
Great article, I’m a big fan of Schneider Electric’s thought leadership activities and this clearly represents a great edu-training effort! If you aren't gathering data on your customers and your competitive field, you're missing out on a wealth of business intelligence that can help you do everything from improve operations to better meet customer needs. The good news is all of that can be accomplished "in a very informal, low-key way," assures Willard. Another of Willard's recommendations involves introducing yourself to the folks who head the marketing departments at nearby universities or community colleges.
Arik Levy, owner of San Francisco-based Laundry Locker Inc., has been using SizeUp, a free-of-charge offering that allows small businesses to benchmark against competitors, map customers and suppliers, and locate the best places to advertise. Results inspired radically new Corn  Pops positioning impacting packaging and creative,  rejuvenating brand image, and increasing sales, share,  and awareness.
Researched multi-channel marketing efforts  of five key advertisers to prepare comprehensive report on  how to target Baby Boomer women for agency-wide project.
Explored multi-cultural trends and  developed volumetric sales analysis to convince Kellogg's to  address diverse '"non-traditional" audiences across all 17 kid-targeted brands. Partnered with nationally recognized Teens Research Unlimited (TRU) presenting leading research studies  to entire 50-person Kellogg's Kid brand and agency teams.
Created a Marlboro-first brand personality  chart spanning family of 10 varieties fundamentally altering  new creative executions, and segmenting mailing to millions of adult smokers. Developed, sold, moderated, and interpreted results for more than 100 qualitative focus  groups and one-on-one sessions for Marlboro.
Led several Key internal brand team  ideation sessions across new products, promotions, and  Marlboro racing school, preparing holistic planning  platforms and guiding brand personality studies. Introduced planning discipline and mass  advertising techniques to entertainment retailer with more than $250MM in sales.
Turned 17% sales decline into 20% increase  in two years by overhauling entire marketing effort and  launching company's first-ever national advertising campaign. Introduced new psychographic target and  launched television, radio, magazine, billboard, theatre,  sponsorship, partnership and licensing plan helping stores  grow from $100MM to $250MM in sales.
Conducted company's first-ever foray into  qualitative research inspiring creative executions for  nationwide campaign launch.
Extended Masterfood's Kid's Point of View  (KPOV) qualitative research program to include 75 inner city  schools providing a more diverse constituent perspective. Developed agency competitive analysis  standards and processes correlating media activity to sales. Designed and conducted proprietary  nationwide research study on inner city teens seed by agency  for all M & M's brands. WorkBloom's goal is to help job seekers find work and reach their highest aspirations, one step at a time. The eye of the consumer holds a wealth of valuable information, and yet sometimes it doesn't tell the whole story. In a crowded retail environment the visibility of a product is a major factor in its success. What is DIY online market research and how can it improve marketing & business decisions? What is DIY online market research and how can it improve marketing & business decisions?
Without some form of online market research businesses and organizations of all sizes are throwing money at hunches or best guesses!
Market research can result in substantial cost savings for businesses and organizations of all sizes and provide the audience insights needed to set the direction when developing, changing or testing a product, service or communications strategy. The ease of which you now have access to self-service (DIY) online research tool like GroupQuality® enables businesses for the first time to quickly capture their own actionable insights.
Market research is an important activity for every business regardless of the industry or size of the market. Market research allows business to gain insight into customers, trends, opinions, competitors and needs. Effective market research can result in substantial cost savings for businesses by providing clear direction.
Online market research involves using online tools to ask questions and capture answers that will assist with marketing and sales.
Live (real-time) online focus groups, online website usability testing, and one-on-one interviews are examples of this type of data collection. Quantitative marketing research, often associated with online surveys, derives its data from a much larger sample group. If you need more help, you can assist you in getting your projects underway and fill in the gaps wherever needed. Online focus groups bring participants together in an online environment to discuss topics, and share ideas and opinions, facilitated by a Moderator. Online community discussion board market research occurs in a secure environment where participants login and post comments on an online research discussion board in response to a specific topic. Online surveys are perfect for validating ideas, measuring customer satisfaction, employee feedback, and even qualifying people to participate in discussion boards and live groups.
A professional recruitment agency can assist in sourcing individuals for your group either from external audited research panel lists, or by helping you recruit from your own customer lists. You can also include a link on your website to a short online intercept survey to capture participants, or by using twitter or Facebook to distribute a participant screening survey.
What is an online market research community discussion board and how can I benefit from it? ContactGQTool Pty Ltd (GroupQuality) is an Australian company servicing clients around the world. To help us better tailor our products to meet your needs we are asking you to take a micro survey.
Learn how to conduct online focus groups to generate insights needed to make quick and accurate business decisions!
This chapter begins by explaining the limitations of marketing research in so much that it serves to reduce rather than remove the risks attendant to decision making. This reflects the fact that in order for a target market share to be reached some promotion (amount unknown) is necessary but will not be sufficient, on its own, to achieve the target. Maintaining objectivity in marketing research is essential if marketing management is to have sufficient confidence in its results to be prepared to take risky decisions based upon those results. Not many years ago an agricultural engineering company developed an improved rice milling machine.
Since they do not have sufficient cash to pay for milling their rice they get paid in 'brokens'.
Although the need for precision and thoroughness in marketing research has been stressed here, it is to be remembered that, in practice, there is a perpetual conflict between the demands of expediency and the search for truth. Marketing research can be concerned with any of a variety of aspects of the market: the product, sales, buyer behaviour, promotion, distribution, pricing, packaging, etc. It is not at all unusual for marketing managers to neglect to tell the researcher the precise purpose of the research. The problem with the objective is that the marketing manager needs to know the potential market for the new tree-lifter is that it is not attainable. It was possible to test customer reaction to the concept of the new tree-lifter by showing pictures, line drawings and by supplying product specifications to prospective buyers. The solution would have been to undertake a study which would have described the market in detail in terms of customers, competitors and the environment. Inevitably there are deadlines which the marketing research activity must fit and these must be stated clearly at the outset of the research.
There are essentially two approaches to establishing the resource allocation to a particular marketing research exercise.
The researcher must also know from the outset of the study the points in time when interim reports are required, if any, and the deadline for the final report.
The point has already been made that the decision-maker should clearly communicate the purpose of the research to the marketing researcher but it is often the case that the objectives are not fully explained to the individual carrying out the study. Whilst it is true that the purpose of research is to address some question, nonetheless one does not test research questions directly.
A hypothesis is a conjectural statement regarding the relation between two or more variables. This is a relation stated between one variable, "red meat consumption", and another variable, "disposable incomes". Again there is a clear statement of the relationship being investigated but there are question marks over the measurability with respect to at least one of the variables i.e. There is a second advantage of stating hypotheses, namely that implicit notions or explanations for events become explicit and this often leads to modifications of these explanations, even before data is collected. Marketing research can be carried out on one of three levels: exploratory, descriptive or causal. Exploratory research: The chief purpose of exploratory research is to reach a better understanding of the research problem. This is a good example of a situation where insufficient knowledge prevented the development of clear objectives, since the problem could not be articulated with any precision and therefore research of an exploratory nature was required. Exploratory research is intended to help researchers formulate a problem in such a way that it can be researched and suggest testable hypotheses. This type of study can involve the description of the extent of association between variables.

The principal difference between exploratory and descriptive research is that, in the case of the latter, specific research questions have been formulated before the research is undertaken.
In summary then there are three distinct types of marketing research study: exploratory, descriptive and causal. Those new to marketing research often intuitively believe that decisions about the techniques of analysis to be used can be left until after the data has been collected. There is little point in spending time and money on collecting data which subsequently is not or cannot be analysed.
The word 'analysis' has two component parts, the prefix 'ana' meaning 'above' and the Greek root 'lysis' meaning 'to break up or dissolve'. Where the data is quantitative there are three determinants of the appropriate statistical tools for the purposes of analysis. Suppose a fruit juice processor wishes to test the acceptability of a new drink based on a novel combination of tropical fruit juices. Comparing sales in a test market and the market share of the product it is targeted to replace. Comparing the responses of a sample of regular drinkers of fruit juices to those of a sample of non-fruit juice drinkers to a trial formulation. Comparing the responses of samples of heavy, moderate and infrequent fruit juice drinkers to a trial formulation.
Once the marketing researcher knows how many samples are to be compared, whether these samples are related or unrelated to one another and the level of measurement then the selection of the appropriate statistical test is easily made. Choosing format (a) would give rise to nominal (or categorical) data and format (b) would yield ratio scaled data. Too often marketing research reports chiefly comprise a lengthy series of tables of statistics accompanied by a few brief comments which verbally describe what is already self-evident from the tables. Customer oriented marketing researchers will have noted from the outset of the research which topics and issues are of particular importance to the person(s) who initiated the research and will weight the content of their reports accordingly.
Marketing research serves marketing management by providing information which is relevant to decision making. The manager or other individual initiating the research must provide guidance to the researcher in the form of a research brief. Having read, questioned and understood the research brief the onus is then upon the marketing researcher to respond by preparing the research design. From your knowledge of the material in this chapter, give brief answers to the following questions below.
1 Name the 3 key words used in the definition of marketing research by Green, Tull and Albaum.
Energy University currently has over 350,000 active users, and more than 800 courses are taken every day.
Let’s take a look at some of the insights Lorna shared on the program, and how their techniques can be applied to a content marketing strategy of any scope, for any industry.
Start with your mission: Energy University began as Data Center University, which was started in 2004 by a company called American Power Conversion (APC).
Educating your customers can save you time — and make you money: Buying efficiency products for a large structure, such as a data center, is complex, Lorna explained, so Energy University teaches its users about the processes involved in making their products work.
When customers are educated, they can make more informed purchasing decisions without needing a lot of assistance from your sales team — in turn, this reduces product returns and increases customer satisfaction rates.
As Lorna explained, there simply aren’t a lot of organizations offering that level of high-quality education in their industry — let alone for free.
Don’t trick your audience into enduring a glorified sales pitch: Have you ever signed up for a webinar you thought would be educational, only to find out that one particular product or service is pitched the whole time? If you have the wonderful problem of creating an overwhelming volume of leads, consider adding a few qualifying questions to your registration or download forms, to help your team drill down to the pain points each lead is most likely to need help with. Still, her advice is to consider editing your recorded content into shorter snippets to see if this leads to better response rates. Implement a rigorous approval process so you don’t get caught delivering bad information. Offer your courses free of charge (whenever possible): A few years ago, Energy University experimented with charging a fee for its courses — and registrations went down. However, even if it isn’t feasible to offer all of your courses for free, you can still reap many of the branding and lead generation benefits provided by an educational content program. What can your company do to demonstrate its concern for customers and simultaneously uncover new business leads? Tracy is also an instructor for the Content Marketing Institute Online Training and Certification program.
You can test to see if your viewers are physically watching, but how do you know that they haven’t mentally tuned out?
Market research helps business gain invaluable market insight into market trends, consumer opinions, competitor weaknesses and customer needs. It is now possible for anyone to ask effective questions and capture answers to gain decision making knowledge quickly and cost-effectively. Often businesses only undertake research when starting out however market research should be a continual process as businesses grow, products and services change, competition increases and customer needs evolve. Traditional research methods can be time consuming, costly and result in reams of paper-based reports which take time to read, understand and action. It focuses on revealing people’s attitudes, behaviors, values, motivations and lifestyles influences.
Qualitative marketing research is great for gathering top line feedback, like what kind of thoughts, feelings, or associations consumers have with a product, service, brand or media channel. More and more businesses of all types and sizes are using online research to gain valuable insight about their market. Just as you do in a traditional focus group session but from the comfort of your own home or office via the Internet.
Using GroupQuality®, you can easily create your online survey and either invite participants personally or distribute or advertise a link to a survey. This short survey which you can use to recruit people for your projects includes a preformatted question type in GroupQuality® to help you manage the people in the integrated panel manager. Learn how to recruit participants for online focus groups, community discussions and online interviews!
The discussion proceeds to an outline of the research brief which has to be drawn up for the guidance of the individual or group charged with executing the study. The machine was introduced into Thailand where existing rice milling machines were of a design which resulted in a high percentage of brokens (broken kernels).
Important information is that information which directly assists in making decisions and the ICO had not told the research company the purpose of the research.
At first glance this might appear to meet all of the requirements of being clear, concise, attainable, measurable and quantifiable. A small engineering firm had purchased a prototype tree-lifter from a private research company. One could find out how many tree-lifters were currently being sold but this is not the same as the objective set by the marketing manager.
However, since the company had not decided their pricing policy an important element could not be tested. As was said earlier, because of time pressures, management is often seeking quick answers from marketing research. The form of interim reports should also be specified at the outset, whether verbal or written, and whether presentations are to be made to a group (nature and size of the group) or an individual. This is a document which develops after having given careful consideration to the contents of the research brief.
Decision-makers seldom work out their objectives fully or, if they have, they are not willing to fully disclose them.
Other helpful procedures include brainstorming, reviews of research on related problems and researching secondary sources of information as well as studying competitive products. There are two key characteristics which all hypotheses must have: they must be statements of the relationship between variables and they must carry clear implications for testing the stated relations. Typically, a descriptive study specifies the number and size of market segments, the alternative ways in which products are currently distributed, listing and comparison of the attributes and features of competitive products, etc. For example, the researcher may observe that there is an association between the geographical location of consumers and their tendency to consume red meat. That is, there are occasions when the researcher will want to know why a change in one variable brings about a change in another. The main methods of data collection are secondary data searches, observation, the survey, experimentation and consumer panels.
These are the number of samples to be compared, whether the samples being compared are independent of one another and the level of data measurement. There are several alternative research designs which might be employed, each involving different numbers of samples. To illustrate the importance of understanding these connections consider the following simple, but common, question in marketing research. Those who submit marketing research proposals involving quantitative data should demonstrate an awareness of the factors that determine the mode of analysis and a capability to undertake such analysis. This includes ensuring that once the task of preparing the data for analysis has begun there is a steady and uninterrupted flow of completed data forms or questionnaires back from the field interviewers to the data processors. However, it is perhaps worth noting that the end products of marketing research are conclusions and recommendations. That is, the researcher should determine what the marketing manager's priorities are with respect to the research study.
In writing a research proposal, experienced researchers would be careful to limit the information which they firmly promise to obtain, in the course of the study, to that which is considered 'must know' information. This document should state the purpose of the research, its objectives, the time by which it must be completed, the budget to which the researcher must work in developing the research design and the timing and frequency of any interim reports which the researcher is expected to make. Research design begins with an accurate and, as far as is possible, precise definition of the problem. Name the 3 factors which determine which is the appropriate statistical test to conduct on data obtained from a random sample.
Kerlinger, FN.(1994) Foundations of Behavioural Research, 1st edition, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, p. In the end, Data Center University was so successful that Schneider Electric decided not only to continue the program, but also to expand it into Energy University. Instead, focus on teaching users about how to solve the problem your software addresses in a more general way. Every course goes through an approval process that involves both instructional and subject matter experts. Some courses even qualify attendees to sit for in-person exams that are offered through third parties.
Yet, Energy University also brings a lot of users in via word of mouth — and those users are then added to the company’s database to be used in its other marketing activities. It's literally about getting insights about your market," Willard says, and that can include information about your customers, your competitors, and everyone—and everything—in between. EyeTracking, Inc.'s pupil-based method for evaluating engagement is objective and unobtrusive. The most common uses of online research includes online surveys to measure customer satisfaction, or conduct live online focus groups to test new brand opinion, product packaging or website testing.
GroupQuality® has been built with the knowledge included so anyone can use the powerful features to ask their own questions and capture the answers needed to make clear businesses decisions.
Online market research using GroupQuality® allows you to track and record results instantly, with top level responses and results available as soon as responses are received. A large enough sample to make accurate assumptions about all people in the target audience.
GroupQuality® is the all-in-one online market research platform wrapped in the know-how to empower anyone to generate their own actionable insights!

Online focus groups are divided into two main types, the more common chat based focus groups and the more recent webcam and audio based focus groups.
The model is further complicated by the fact that these interactions are themselves often not understood.
This means that a detailed and carefully designed research plan is developed in which each stage of the research is specified.
The characteristics of the scientific method are that it translates personal prejudices, notions and opinions into explicit propositions (or hypotheses). The more effective milling machine simply did not fit into the Thai rice processing system. Therefore management often seeks answers through marketing research in the shortest time possible and, moreover, at minimum cost.
The question remains as to how the researcher decides where to focus the study, and to what depth each issue should be investigated. The initial reason for the study had been a suspicion, on the part of the ICO, that an increasing percentage of young people were consuming beverages other than coffee, particularly soft drinks, and simply never developed the coffee drinking habit. This machine was suitable for lifting semi-mature trees, complete with root-ball intact, and transplanting such trees in another location. The market potential for any new brand is a function of at least 4 things, as shown in Figure 1.1. Alternatively, they can decide how much the management can afford to spend, at the time, and seek the best answer they can for the time, money and manpower allocated.
In theory, responsibility for ensuring that the research proceeds along clearly defined lines rests with the decision-maker.
For example, the decision-maker could be asked what he has in mind when he uses the term market potential.
These characteristics imply that it is relationships, rather than variables, which are tested; the hypotheses specify how the variables are related and that these are measurable or potentially measurable. The point has been made that it is all too easy when conducting research to collect "interesting data" as opposed to "important data". When there is little understanding of the topic it is impossible to formulate hypotheses without some exploratory studies.
If by accident or design format (a) were chosen then the analyst would have only a very small set of statistical tests that could be applied and these are not very powerful in the sense that they are limited to showing association between variables and could not be used to establish cause-and-effect. Whether the data is to be analysed manually or through the use of a computer program, data can be coded, cleaned (i.e. With respect to the marketing planning function, marketing research helps to identify potential threats and opportunities, generates alternative courses of action, provides information to enable marketing managers to evaluate those alternatives and advises on the implementation of the alternatives.
When conclusions are drawn from raw data and when recommendations are made then data is converted into information.
Rather, marketing research helps to reduce the uncertainty surrounding the decisions to be made.
Energy University works directly with these organizations to make sure its courses are in compliance with the strict guidelines required for accreditation. Offering the education for free shows how invested Schneider is in their customers’ needs. Schneider Electric tracks leads, how users are coming into the site, and where users are coming from. Our proven method combines advanced visual behavior analyses with traditional marketing research techniques to provide a comprehensive evaluation of the entire consumer experience.
We have successfully applied it to research on television, video games, software and commercials. This allows business to gain vital information about customers, products and markets before their competitors and at a cost and turnaround time that is hard to match. This form of research generally derives its data from a relatively small group of participants. In most instances it would be time consuming and costly to interview everyone in your target audience. Unlike others, we make accessible both qualitative and quantitative research tools with the knowledge so anyone can ask effective questions and capture answers. You can also easily run reports to quickly see where responses are weighted and the comments as they are submitted. It is for these reasons that marketing researchers cannot guarantee that decisions based on their information will always prove 'successful'. Such a research plan is only considered adequate if it specifies: the research problem in concise and precise terms, the information necessary to address the problem, the methods to be employed in gathering the information and the analytical techniques to be used to interpret it. Intuitively a successful product would be predicted, launched with hardly any need for marketing research when the new mill had such obvious advantages over existing products. Knowing that 60% of those interviewed thought that product A was superior to product B is, in itself, of little value. On such occasions its methods tend to be less theoretically rigorous and its analysis more superficial. Had this been explained to the research company then it is likely that their proposals would have been radically different. The researchers began by looking at the basis of competition to determine whether it was on price, product quality or unique product features. He or she is likely to put forward a design which is less elegant, and gives rise to less precise information but delivers the results on schedule. This is a legitimate question since the researcher is charged with the responsibility to develop a research design which will provide the right kind of information.
However for the purposes of statistical testing it is more usual to find hypotheses stated in the so-called null form, e.g. For example, crop residues such a straw are high in lignin (a wood-like substance) and low in nutrients. Nonetheless if the relationship between the two is fairly stable this descriptive information may be sufficient for the purposes of prediction. Samples are said to be dependent, or related, when the measurement taken from one sample in no way affects the measurement taken from another sample. Format (b), on the other hand, since it gives the analyst ratio data, allows all statistical tests to be used including the more powerful parametric tests whereby cause-and-effect can be established, where it exists.
A second logistical issue concerns any plan to build up a picture of the pattern of responses as the data comes flowing in. It is information which management needs to reduce the inherent risks and uncertainties in management decision making. In order to do so effectively, marketing research has to be systematic, objective and analytical. There will then be an intermediate stage whereby the hypotheses are restated in a testable form, i.e. An online survey made up of a sample of people from the larger target audience generally provides the information accuracy needed to make informed decisions about the whole audience, or population. At the same time alternative explanations of the event or phenomena of interest are given equal consideration. The agricultural engineering company went through the expensive and time-consuming process of importing the machine into Thailand. To appreciate the difference consider the case of the marketing research agency which was contacted by the International Coffee Organisation (ICO) and asked to carry out a survey of young people in the age group 15-24.
To begin with, the sample would have been composed of 15-24 year old non-coffee drinkers rather than a random sample of all 15-24 year olds.
These are only briefly discussed here since the remainder of this textbook consists of a detailed explanation of each step.
Another approach is to focus the discussions with the person commissioning the research on the decisions which would be made given alternative findings which the study might come up with. This makes them a poor animal feed since the lignin acts against digestibility and the low nutrient content means poor food value.
The researcher may, for example, be able to predict how fast the per capita consumption of red meat is likely to rise over a given time period. Thus a simple change in the wording of a question can have a fundamental effect upon the nature of the data generated.
They set up extensive distribution and servicing facilities only to be surprised when the mill failed to gain acceptance.
Data is equivalent to the raw materials of manufacturing; it has to be converted into information before it becomes useful in decision making.
The brief must inform the researcher which aspects of the market are particularly important. They wanted information on the coffee drinking habits of these young people: how much coffee they drank, at what times of day, with meals or between meals, instant or ground coffee, which other beverages they preferred and so on. Second, the focus would have been non-coffee drinking habits rather than coffee drinking habits.
They examined the pattern of response on past occasions when one or other of those companies already in the market had launched a new product. This process frequently proves of great value to the decision-maker in that it helps him think through the objectives and perhaps select the most important of the objectives.
However, if treated in a strong alkali, plus a little heat, the lignin breaks down and the nutrient content increases. The measurement of the responses of fruit juice drinkers to the trial formulation in no way affects or influences the responses of the sample of non-fruit juice drinkers.
For instance, suppose that research was being undertaken within a particular agricultural region with a view to establishing the size, number and type of milling enterprises which had established themselves in rural areas following market liberalisation. This will probably only be done if it is intended that statistical analysis is to be undertaken. In response, the research organisation developed a set of wide-ranging proposals which included taking a large random sample of young people. An audit of the environment was undertaken too, but the missing component was the company's' own plans for exploiting the market. A company was established to exploit this technology and did so successfully for 4 seasons. It may be that the West of the district under study mainly wheat is grown whilst in the East it is maize which is the major crop. Where the research is more qualitative in nature then it is still recommended that hypotheses should be developed. Since the company had no involvement in the agricultural engineering sector, prior to acquiring the rights to the tree-lifter, they had no agreements with distributors, no idea of which, if any, of the distributors would be prepared to stock their product; they had no salesmen trained in selling into this industry and so on.
It would make sense to coordinate the fieldwork with data analysis so that the interim picture was of either wheat or maize milling since the two are likely to differ in terms of the type of mill used (e.g.
That is, the same individuals are asked first to taste formulation X and then to taste formulation Y. The company, Animal Feed Systems, did not know whether the whole industry had slowed down or if only their product was suffering.
Nor did they know if the problem was temporary in that perhaps the market comprised of "early adopters" had been saturated but it was only a matter of time before other farmers began to buy their systems when they saw how well they worked. It is only when the analysis plan has been considered that fieldwork, in the form of data collection, should be undertaken. It was also possible that if a problem did exist it could lie in any one of a number of areas: animal populations might be declining, distributors may not be promoting the product aggressively, customers may be experiencing difficulties in getting the chemicals, and so on and on.

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