There’s little doubt that profitable businesses have good products and services. But the case can be made that good decisions are actually the key to good — and sustainable — business practice. Knowing when and how to pivot course when needed is critical to maintaining relevancy in ever-changing markets, regardless of how great a product is or how helpful a service seems. Indeed, new technologies, economic instability, environmental concerns and, of course, consumer whim can quickly swing customer interest and need. Thus, the real advantage for companies to have is not necessarily just good products, but rather good information. Good data drives good decisions, allowing company leaders to effectively anticipate and respond to market demand. In this way, marketing research has become a crucial part of a successful business plan. Here’s how to start:
The First Step in a Marketing Research Plan
Marketing research is the process by which information about marketing conditions is gathered, organized, evaluated and used. Companies can either conduct their own marketing research, or they can hire someone to do it for them, and it always starts in the same way: defining the problem.
How to Define the Marketing Problem
Before any research can begin, a company must determine what it wants to learn. Only a clear understanding of the problem at hand permits the crafting of questions that plumb the depth of information a company needs to devise a workable solution to it. The first step in the marketing research process, then, is to establish a SMART objective. This should be a Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely marketing goal that the organization wishes to achieve: to develop, to grow, to compare, to measure, etc. Part of identifying this objective is gathering background information. The company must review available literature and study examples from other companies and even its own history so that it is able to identify the marketing variables (such as pricing and promotions) impacting the suspected problem. This will help the organization recognize the potential impact of the factors affecting the problem and allow it to determine whether or not its objective is actually capable of being resolved.
Here’s an example of a feasible research problem: To determine the effect of Product X pricing on consumer need.
Ready to Learn More?
Of course, identifying the problem is only the first step in the marketing research process. From there, organizations must carefully work through the development of a research methodology, the formulation of meaningful questions, the identification and contact of knowledgeable respondents, the gathering of information and the analysis and presentation of relevant data returns. It can be confusing, as well as time-consuming. An experienced and knowledgeable partner like our team here at Communications for Research (CFR) can help. If you are interested in conducting a marketing research project of your own, please contact us. We have over 20 years experience conducting research projects that deliver actionable insights.