Business leaders in marketing, research, communications, and development are specifically charged with moving the business forward. Relevant consumer insights can be difficult to achieve and keep up with, no matter the level of professional expertise. There’s still a lot to be said for plain old common sense and what you absorb anecdotally from social media, podcasts, television and — hold on! There are still old-school sources of information that are robust as well. Don't discount the value of books, newspapers, magazines and advertising just because we live in an increasingly digital world. Going with your gut is fine and good, but research adds undeniable value to projects.
What Makes a Good Marketer?
A good marketer by nature is intuitive and alert to market trends. The latest musings and impulses of relevant tastemakers are whiffs of change in the air. Nothing informs and substantiates recommendations like stats, facts, and figures. Fortunately, we live in an age where copious amounts of information are available. Smart marketers do more than simply access that information, though. They determine the validity and the value added in using information to move a product or deliver a service.
Today, researchers are capable of gathering insight into consumers' minds, almost in real-time, and even in tumultuous and disrupted times — like the present!
Why Market Research?
One of the many great things about market research is the ability to provide verified—and verifiable—information that informs and improves strategies, all while adding to the bottom line. Even something as relatively simple as demographics can be used to identify new opportunities for new and existing customers. Data on age, income, family makeup, and more can help determine the customer’s needs, their interest in your offerings, where they live and how you can best reach them. A good marketer generally knows what other options the customer base has, and how much they are willing to pay for those alternatives. This is a robust demographic knowledge that can be tweaked.
What Kind of Research?
Research that is more hands-on, such as market research surveys or in-person focus groups, provides real-time insights into consumer needs, behaviors, and preferences. Other examples of organic research include taste tests, brand awareness, longitudinal studies, questionnaires, one-on-one interviews, medical device testing, and more.
It’s impossible to speak to every type of person or business in the same way at the same time. Market segmentation can identify consumer preferences and provide robust B2B insights, such as company size, revenue and product categories to drive efficient, appropriate and effective marketing communications tactics.
The last person you want to be surprised by is your customer. Product testing helps us to understand how a product meets customers' needs or not! It’s also wise to continue research throughout a product’s life. Making informed decisions before a product launch, or even around changes to existing products, saves time, unnecessary work and money. Just like product testing, advertising testing gauges a potential campaign’s impact before taking on the expense of full-blown development and rollout.
Measuring existing customer sentiment is effective for retention. It determines what factors influence loyalty, advocacy, and repeat purchases or engagement. It can also provide early warnings about other factors that might drive customer defection, identify needed improvements or changes, and spark ideas for retention programs. “Survey fatigue” is real, so be proactive and alert about asking for feedback too quickly or too often.
Here's the Bottom Line:
The value of market research lies in its ability to match study outcomes with specific business problems and provides a clear way forward. There are even more processes and procedures around market research, but the point is that research done right removes biases, addresses the right audience in the right way at the right time, and provides actionable insights. At the present time, market research can reliably generate a quantifiable return on investment of your organization’s marketing dollars.
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