Market research is one crazy good marketing tactic and you could be overlooking it.

See that shy person sitting in the corner of your company, it’s your research department. Shy but once you unleash them, you’ve got a powerful marketing partner. 

With nearly 10 years either leading or actively involved in conducting research, I understand how amazing research can be for a company’s growth.

Research is not about conducting surveys and creating clever little presentations for your executive meeting.  Research is about keeping the pulse on your customers, your company, your products, services.  Research arms the marketing teams with the insight needed to craft their message, campaigns and more.  

So let’s meet this shy character and see what they can do for you.

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First, research can help you learn about the customer

  • Your current customer : What is the profile of your current customer, age, gender, income, marital status, etc? Why choose your products over competitors? How long have they been customers? How did you first acquire them as customers?  

  • Your future customer : What is the profile of the customer you want to have, age, gender, income, marital status, etc?

  • Better understanding them : What are your customers’ interests and activities? Why do they do the types of activities they do? How can knowing this type of activity help them

  • Learning what’s important to them : What do your customers value in their life, in the products or services they purchase? What do your prospect customers value in their life, or in the products or services they purchase? Can you help meet that need?

  • Discovering what worries them : What are the things that worry your current customers? What about prospect customers? Can you help meet that need?

Secondly, research can sharpen the focus of your company and their products or services.

  • How do customers view your company’s products?  As you introduce new products or services, you want to know if there is room for growth. Could you be expanding your product lines? Or should you consider scaling back your product sales targets?
  • How do your customers buy, engage with your company’s products?   How did they learn about your products, how do they enjoy the buying process, how did they choose your products? Did they comparison check? Did they use your product after purchase? What was their experience?  Should you evaluate a different pricing structure?

  • How can you fix a potential problem?  Every company has its fair share of them, some more urgent than others. Could you identify them before they become big deficits in your organization?

  • How can you test a new market, new product, new audience? The greatest thing about research is that you can test the waters before you dive in.

Lastly, of course, research can help you market more effectively.  

When used effectively, research can be one of the most powerful allies in your marketing arsenal.

  1. Develop highly attuned messaging: You want the marketing message to always resonate with your customers.   Many brands utilize market research to test product messaging, advertising recall, test campaign messages and concepts, they sometimes even go as far as testing what your brand voice can be about.
  2. Become a recognized brand/leader of information and insight: Who says research has to stay hidden in the four walls of your building. You can become the recognized voice of your industry by providing much needed light into corners of your industry people may want to know about. Research for external purposes carry a complete different objective so understanding that ahead of developing the questionnaire and prospecting the list. Want tips on that, give me a shout. The researcher in me is always bursting to talk data!

  3. Create your own research event : No they don’t have to be full of pie charts and slideshows. Use the facts and numbers to guide your event planning ideas. It’s an opportunity to bring amazing information out into the world. They could be consumer events, client events, relationship building events. There are an infinite number of ways you can do this.  I have produced research based executive level clients events as a PR/Marketing tool, lead generation effort, and client relationship-building resource. I’m just drooling at the thought of what we could do together.

  4. Cultivate your own content marketing efforts : Have something thought-provoking to share? Then share it. Create infographics, ebooks, slideshows, you name it.  There are a million ways to utilize the research. I have launched an exclusive New York Times Job Market Index, published weekly press releases and garnered exclusive coverage from key competitors and industry publications. We also created a series of whitepapers, a newsletter and a research website. Research can be one hefty marketing partner. 

Now I know you’re just itching to get started.  

But before you get right to it, let’s learn about the different types of research so you can figure out what's really the right fit for what you think you're looking to do.

  • Quantitative Research - Think of surveys, questionnaires, polls, etc. It’s all about the numbers, getting objective measurements and statistically relevant analysis.  Quantitative is more about precise direction, controlling more about how you want the conversation or information to go. With screeners, you build in the mechanism to weed out those people you don’t want or need.
  • Qualitative Research - Think of focus groups, of intimate conversations with friends where sometimes...you don’t always control where the conversation can take you. But you discover nuances you never could exist.
  • Product, Reader, Advisory Panel - Imagine a group of customers geared to give you regular ongoing insights. They can be called upon to test your products, test your concepts, be your insider.   This takes time to build and engage them regularly.
  • Web User Experience - Imagine peaking over the shoulder of someone browsing on your website. What are they thinking? What do they think of your website? Can they find everything they were looking for?

For each of each research types, you have to get a couple of critical things down involved in your research plan.

  • Objective: We discussed so many of the things you can learn from research. But don’t expect to learn them all from one survey at one time. You can only imagine how long that questionnaire can be.
  • Audience: Who is the audience you want to talk to? Are they qualified to answer the questions you need answered. A survey among the wrong audience will only serve to waste your time and defeat your objective.  You also need to think about the size of your audience.  You wouldn’t make big decisions on the opinions of the few correct?

  • Uses for your research: Think about the many uses for your research before you develop the questionnaire, map out the plan, get the company buy in. How are you planning on specifically leveraging the results. Without planning on how you may change your products, services, marketing efforts, your research may sit on a shelf.  Getting the buy-in of the various business unit leaders will help you get those results viewed, read, talked about. You’ll be the talk of the town. Or your company.

  • Frequency of your research: Do you want to tap your customers once, monthly, annually? Will you want to see a trend? If so, think of what questions you need to ask annually. What metrics should you be tracking over time?

  • Incentives:  People love to share their opinions. And people also love to be rewarded. Give the people what they want. There are number of ways to incentivize your customers. Monetary compensation is wonderful but people also want to fill respected, honored.  Be creative about how you incentivize. 

  • Think about the Question Type: There are a number of different question types out there.  Open ended, close-ended, scales, multiple choice questions, rank order, etc. Understanding how you use each will be invaluable in how you shape the questionnaire and ultimately how you will use the survey.    

  • Length of your research: This goes hand in hand with your question type.  

Did this article help you? Think I'm missing something or have questions, shoot me an email at Jkim@mkinceptions.com or Tweet me @JisunKimNJ.  I would love to hear from you. 

Let’s get cracking. We’ve got so much to talk about. Your next great discovery could be one questionnaire away.