Uncover Client Needs with Qualitative Research

CPA Firm Business Development

 Kurt Steigerwald 


In the early 1990s, I served as the Ohio practice marketing director at one of the largest accounting firms in the world. At that time, research involved asking the firm’s librarian to run a D&B list of companies in the market. Reading business publications, gathering word of mouth from partners and compiling insight from various sources created our view of the market. In those days actionable marketing research – where you build an understanding of your customers, their challenges and identify new market opportunities – seemed exclusive to consumer products companies. My how times have changed.

Research 101

My goal is to give you just enough information about marketing research to be dangerous. Marketing research can be broken into two broad categories.

Secondary research involves taking currently available information and compiling it into a comprehensive understanding of what is known about a category. For old timers, think library research, buying industry studies or using compiled lists. Today, much of this work starts and ends with Google searches. Good secondary research can be a powerful way to support decision making, but it doesn’t provide critical insights that come from the voice of the customer.

Primary research is information that is created where only conjecture or theories exist. Primary research relies on direct feedback from an audience and can be broken down into two broad approaches.


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About Kurt Steigerwald

Kurt Steigerwald is a Vice President with MarketVision Research, a large primary research firm with offices throughout the US and in Dubai and London. Kurt designs and executes research projects for a number of accounts ranging in size from large corporations to start-up entities. His broad base of experience includes serving as Managing Director of a mid-sized research organization and Ohio Practice Marketing Director with a multi-national accounting and consulting firm. Kurt has an MBA with a marketing concentration from The Cleveland State University, where he also completed his undergraduate studies.

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