It’s a common practice to cite statistics in your marketing materials in order to impress potential clients. However, with all the information you can get on the net, have stats become too overused?

This is the premise of Mark Schaefer on {Grow} as he talked about Forrester’s recent drama with Facebook.

In an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg, Forrester’s research had apparently concluded that the social networking site is not making marketer’s happy (a fact that could have a negative impact on its stock).

Facebook has responded though and it didn’t hesitate to point out flaws in Forrester’s findings. This is big news, not just for those who use Facebook for social media but also for those who have relied on statistical information to boost their marketing campaign.

Think about it. Forrester is one of the leading market research organizations in the world. But as Schaefer suggests out in his own blog, the effects of spreading the research information may be casting doubt on how reliable any type of statistical information is becoming. How can you trust the findings of someone who feels that the information they’re providing is not really benefiting them business wise?

Unfortunately, Facebook isn’t the only one that’s firing back on Forrester. Doug Schoen, a survey research expert on Forbes, also believes something is wrong with the research (such as ignoring the statistical margin of error when comparing satisfaction).

Does this mean that Forrester’s about to lose credibility? Maybe, maybe not but that’s not the problem. The problem is that it highlights a reality faced by the companies who are giving you your stats. They’re a business too and like you, they need clients that pay even when that information is soon going to spread among others and kill the demand for more.

Sadly that leads to suspicions on the neutrality of your information. It’s the common internet saying, “over 90% of statistics are made up.”

So does this mean that you need stop citing them to convince your prospects? Not entirely but you should consider some alternatives to supplement the tactic.

  • Do your own homework  – Try to do your own market research. It may not be easy at first so research on how to do it. Outsource the tools and additional personnel you need in case they’d be expensive otherwise.
  • Get testimonials – Had success with past clients? Let them vouch for you. Their real life experience with your business can be harder evidence than numbers you just copied off a free research report.
  • Cite your own experience – Give them a real look into what your business does. You can use videos of your work with clients. Share some data on your own results that could go with the testimonials.

From the looks of it, research companies may all be charging higher rates for higher quality research compared to stuff they’d just let you download. Don’t blame them. Other businesses don’t exactly spend much on freebies. Save yourself the cost by supplementing cited stats with other information you can get.