Marketing isn’t a shot in the dark. It isn’t throwing things at a wall and seeing what sticks.
It isn’t something you approach without having done the background work first (unless you like wasting money).
What does that background work look like?
It’s using data, analytics, resources, and historical information to decide what methods and approaches you should be using.
It’s deciding who your target audience is, what your marketing goals are, and what your desired timeline is before getting started.
So what value does this research bring?
Let’s dive in.
What is market research?
Market research “is the process of evaluating the feasibility of a new product or service, through research conducted directly with potential consumers”. This means having all of the information you can arm yourself to better understand how to position your product or service to maximize sales and revenue.
There are four different types of market research:
Each of these supplies unique insight into your specific market and what drives purchasing. Relying on only one of these with give you a singularly-dimensional view of your target audience’s motivations.
Instead, consider using two or more methods to collect the best information you can access. This doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to try to micromanage the outcome to condense your results. Instead, it simply means giving you the biggest picture and you can dip your toes into different options.
What types of market research are out there?
There are several different approaches you can take to gather information through the different types of market research.
Primary research is typically done through approaches including interviews, surveys, and focus groups. This is going directly to the source to understand what they do and don’t like, where they find value, how they decide what and when to purchase products, and more. This information is going to give you an intimate view into the buyers’ minds and will likely be the most up-to-date results.
Secondary research allows others to do the legwork for you (it’s their dollars spent on the research, too). This is information you receive from the source who collected it, and is generally obtained through internet searches, academic journals, industry experts, and private marketing firms.
Qualitative research is less about data and metrics and more about the human mind. It considers emotions, beliefs, habits, and other drivers. It’s the intangible information that convinces people to make buying decisions.
Quantitative research is “records empirical data that confirms or rejects subjective findings”. HubSpot has a fantastic article outlining how quant and qual are complementary of one another – truly a ying and yang situation. Where qualitative research gives you the touchy-feely part of buying habits, quantitative gives you the cold, hard facts and data to either prove or disprove theories.
How to get your hands on it
Why does any of this matter? It sounds pretty complicated and potentially expensive.
Well, it can be. There are plenty of research groups and marketing firms that would be happy to charge you for their services and time. Depending on your budget and goals, that may be the best choice for you. Outsourcing to professionals is a great way to drive results in a big way.
That isn’t for everyone, though.
If you are just starting out, have a limited budget, prefer to DIY, or have any other reason why that doesn’t work for you, there are plenty of other ways to source market research on your own. From google analytics to post-purchase customer surveys, there are plenty of cheap or free ways to get information from current and future customers.
No matter how you source it, the important part is that you do.
There are few thingws more valuable than understanding who your customers are, how they are finding your product, and why they choose it over competitors. Those things are who your competitors customers are, how they are finding their products, and why they are choosing them over you.
Either way, all of this data is collected through research.
How does this research supply value to your business? Let’s look at a couple of examples:
Example #1 – You are the top florist in your town for consumer purchases. Your brand is widely recognized and top of mind to those looking to buy single bouquets and arrangments, but you want more. You want to break into events like weddings and corporate dinners. You can use primary research to discover why your current clients purchase from you and use that to position yourself in your new venture. You can also use secondary research to understand what the top venues in the area are, what average budgets for florals customers have for events, and what the top trends for wedding florals are. This information is enough to create a list of potential partners, a marketing announcement to create awareness for your new initiative, and have pricing that reflects the work and your expertise.
Example #2 – You are the social media manager for a multi-brand car dealership and you have been tasked to create a new campaign to “drive” Gen Z buyers in. You are a millennial and aren’t quite sure what types of cars they want or what they care about in a buying experience. You have a decent budget that allows you to work with a local consulting firm that can provide you data sourced from car dealerships around the country, which includes the top five cars Gen Z are buying, the average cost for those cars, how they found the dealerships, if they had cosigners and the demographics for them and more. With this information, the social media manager comes up with an Instagram and Facebook campaign to target these audiences where they are buying with content relevant to them.
The end result for each of these is enough information to formulate a plan. The marketing plan that comes from thoughtful research and realtime data is the best kind when looking to increase revenue and increase brand awareness.
This information holds more monetary value than wasting marketing dollars where they underserve you. Not all marketing dollars are good marketing dollars. Spending money to reach the wrong audience or to communicate ineffectively to the right one is just as bad as doing no marketing all.
If the options are throwing something at a wall and seeing what sticks, or using military-grade technology to find the exact target, I’m going with milspec.