Marketing Genius from Maple Creative


Marketing tips, observations & philosophy, plus a few rants and random musings - from those who practice, preach and teach marketing, research, advertising, public relations and business strategy.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Calculating Margin of Error on Surveys

If you want to get a really confusing, convoluted answer, ask a research professional, an economics guru or a statistics professor how to calculate the margin of error for a survey. Whoa! You might do better acquiring the secret recipe formula from Coca-Cola. The folks that I've asked either refer to a very complicated calculus exercise that involves integrals and a ratio of "big N" to "little N" ... or they "hem" and "haw" and "harrumph" passing the matter off as being something that cannot be precisely determined.

There's nothing that irks me more than being buffaloed, BS'd or brushed aside. Sufficiently curious and sufficiently frustrated by not getting a direct answer (and not finding it in my statistics textbooks, by the way), I set out on a quest to find the formula.

At Maple Creative, we our philosophy is to provide the "straight talk" of marketing. In this spirit, we are committed to sharing great tools, tips and resources with our fellow marketing geniuses. Today, I am pleased to point out this really cool application that enables you to calculate the margin of error for a given sample size on a statistical survey. And conversely, this Web application can also be used to help you calculate the required sample size for a particular margin of error. Thanks to the folks at software maker, RaoSoft, Inc. for sharing this free tool with the world.

If you want more information and some of the statistical theory to explain these calculations, here's a very helpful article from Dr. Pamela Hunter, provided by the folks at Six Sigma, Inc.


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