No new studies you can report on in your field? Time to start mining past studies and reviving some old material or finding new twists on old figures.
Pick any topic relating to your business – I’m sure you’ll find many if not dozens of recent studies on that topic. Your task is to extract the valuable information and condense it, clarify it, interpret it, or refute it.
Don’t worry that this is old news. If it’s valuable, it’s worth repeating, and chances are people will never have heard it before or at worst they’ve forgotten it. Also, just a few years ago we reported information differently. People are keen to have simpler and more visual reporting of statistics now. Finding data in old studies gives you that opportunity.
Example One – Automobile Windshields
Suppose your company deals with auto glass – repairing or replacing windshields and so on. Enter the phrase “study automobile windshields” into Google. It’s a good idea to start with something general and then narrow from there if you need to. The more general the search, the more likely you’ll find something unexpected.
In this case, the search turns up a number of articles about a May 2016 study about how many brands of cars don’t have UV ray protection on side and rear windows. This is an interesting topic for your customers and visitors. A lot of sites are reporting this study and since it’s May 2016 right now, you would be repeating something others are already covering. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it would be even better to offer something additional.
There’s another study in the search results. This one is a more scientific study from 2013 and it broke the story that front windshields may protect us, but side and rear windows having little UV protection, which has resulted in high incidents of skin cancer and eye issues on the left sides of drivers.
You could take those 2013 numbers and use the immediacy of the 2016 report to re-state them – maybe make an infographic. Plus, you could talk about how car manufacturers haven’t done much in the intervening years to help solve this issue. And finally you can talk about the options for adding UV protection (a service you offer).
Example Two – Mattress Life Span
In this example, start with a more specific search: “report mattresses average life span.” As a mattress store owner, you want to give some numbers to the question of when to change your mattress, so you’re looking for a report that might have figures on as well as reasons for replacing it.
While “report” was used in the search phrase and you can try switching that out for “study” or “paper” although Google’s pretty savvy about seeing those as synonyms.
In the results, there are a lot of references to a Consumer Reports article. That’s a good place to start. It’s a 2007 report, so few people are likely to remember it. You do need to be careful, of course, because older reports may not be as relevant if newer technologies or ideas have taken hold since that time.
Turns out, the report says there is no formula for knowing when to change your mattress, but it does lay out some helpful rules. You could use those as the core of your article, expanding on the ideas, such as not letting kids use it as a trampoline – even adding some images where possible. There’s an opportunity for a nice infographic too, explaining each of the tips visually. And of course, give credit and link to the Consumer Reports article.
But it would be nice to give some numbers, so you keep going through the search results.
Next is a useful article in Bed Times magazine, from 2008. It was about a very broad survey on sleep habits/attitudes and mattress purchases. Lots of good material in that to come back to for other articles, but with respect to mattress life spans, the survey found that most people think 10 years is the right time to change and they take it as a fact, though they’re not sure where they heard it.
At this point you could try and find more studies – in particular ones after 2008 – or you could talk about perceived time for replacing a mattress and do a focus on the 10 year number.
The Way Way Back Example
Another way to approach this is to find a very old study – at least 40 years old – and compare what it says with what we know now. How much has changed or are things quite similar?