For many of us, market research isn’t exciting. We’d rather be clever with ad copy or a tweet without doing any leg work first. That can be a costly mistake.
Before you create any content for your website, your social media accounts, or any other marketing purposes, you should conduct at least some research first. It’s so tempting to save the time (and possibly money) and just jump into the more fun, creative aspects. But if you don’t know what your competitors are doing, what your customers want, what the new trends are, or your current reputation in the marketplace, you could end up actually wasting time and money on messaging that falls flat or even causes damage to your brand.
Types of research
Conducting research may sound like an intense, long project that requires a lot of money, expertise, and number-crunching. While some of it can be, many methods are insightful, yet cost-effective and time-efficient.
The four main types of research are:
Formal – This research type often uses surveys to find out answers to specific questions from a viable sampling of people.
Informal – Focus groups and interviews are two examples of informal research.
Primary – This is research you do yourself or hire someone to do for you. It can be formal or informal.
Secondary – When you gather data from another source, such as competitors’ social media accounts or historical records, this is considered a secondary research method.
Any one of these research types, or a combination, might suit your needs. Determining which to pursue depends on a few factors, including how scientific your results must be, what budget and timeline you have, and what you want to learn.
How you might use it
Your needs and goals will help you determine what types of research you undertake. If you’re thinking about tweaking your existing logo, depending on the size of your company and the nature of your business, you might be able to do informal, primary research in the form of asking customers, employees, and friends their opinions on the current logo and possible new design. If you get a consensus, or enough similar suggestions, you can make your final decision or slightly alter one of the options.
For larger campaigns that involve launching a new initiative, you might want to engage in all of the research types over the course of your data gathering. You could look at what your competitors have done or are doing (informal, secondary research). You can survey current and past customers, the community, and whoever else you have deemed as a public you want to reach. These surveys can be done via phone, mail, or email. They would be formal, primary research. Looking at feedback you’ve received from members of your publics would be informal and primary. If your campaign will require spending money on marketing collateral, collecting price quotes would also count as research.
These are just a few examples of the ways you should prepare before you begin any marketing campaign.
Why it should be ongoing
Once you have collected your data from your initial research, planned, and implemented your campaign, you need to know how it’s performing. You may find, in your ongoing research, that you should make adjustments to your messaging. Maybe you want to expand the marketing to other publics or branch out with new communication methods. Research will help you take the best path to achieve your goals with these additions to your campaign.
If you’re ready to add research to your marketing plan but don’t know where to start, reach out to us at klg communications.