Roger Magoulas, our director of market research, is fond of including the photo to the right in his presentations, reminding people that numbers need to be treated with care.
Conversely, framing your questions in the right way can be incredibly helpful. I heard a really good example of this kind of thing the other day. A now-retired retinal surgeon set up practice in Monterey 30-odd years ago, against the advice of all his peers who said that you needed a metropolitan area of at least 2 million people to support such a practice. He did more incisive math, locating against all apparent odds in a town of about 40,000, because he realized that a large number of those people were retired (and especially in neighboring Carmel) quite wealthy. By his math, Monterey had as many people in the desired demographic as a metropolitan area of 10 million more evenly distributed customers.
Now retired, he lives in a spectacular house jutting over the ocean that he bought just out of medical school, eyeing a market that none of his peers ever thought of serving.