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Survey Sin #7: Mr. Magoo Syndrome

Survey Sin #7: Mr. Magoo Syndrome, or, data myopia

By Larry Kilbourne

Those of us of a certain age will recall the delightfully short-sighted Mr. Magoo of cartoons, who was always getting ready to drive off a cliff or walk blindly into traffic.

In the survey world, our final survey sin calls attention to a lack of imagination – or short sightedness – with respect to the possible uses of the data we’ve painstaking collected. Just because a survey is undertaken with a specific purpose in mind does not mean that it can’t – or shouldn’t – be usefully repurposed. Interesting survey results can find new and potentially valuable venues that are unrelated to the original purpose of the survey.

For instance, online publications, trade journals and industry analysts are always on the lookout for real-time data that provides information previously unavailable. (And incidentally, saves them the effort of doing the research and writing it up themselves). A repurposed survey report can become a news story or a white paper with little additional effort. It can also provide the content and story line for a webinar that attracts both customers and prospects.

While more and more organizations are surveying their customers or membership on a regular basis, far fewer share back that information to these groups, even though they would welcome it.

Perhaps with the maturing of emerging social networks and media, organizations will more frequently use surveys and their findings to fuel ongoing conversations with customers, members and prospects. But at present, many still suffer from Mr. Magoo Syndrome when it comes to recognizing the value and myriad uses of survey data.


If you’ve followed this series of blogs from the start you’re now familiar with the 7 common (“deadly”) survey sins I’m seen in my experience.

Are there others you have come across that should be included?

Copyright © 2008 by Larry Kilbourne, Ph.D. Dr. Kilbourne is an independent marketing consultant. He may be reached at


Reader Comments (2)

This brings up the value of having multiple people look at your work -- you never know what a fresh set of eyes/brains will bring to the table!

December 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDennis McDonald

Definitely - since those who commission surveys/studies are usually so focused on obtaining data for some purpose they're blind to its other practical uses.

December 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLarry Kilbourne

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