Renee Prejean-Motanky

Holistic Market Research

In Business Strategies, Integrated Marketing Strategy, marketing, Marketing Plan, Marketing Research on July 9, 2013 at 7:53 pm

Holistic market research2

Let’s face it. Most business leaders and marketers don’t do a sufficient job with the market research component of their strategic planning. There are a few reasons behind this:

  • It’s not real exciting (unless you’re the analytical type and really into data)
  • It can be incredibly expensive (and everyone wants to save the budget for the fun stuff)
  • We’re afraid of what we might find out (it can be easier to create a view of the market we want than to face the market realities).

Holistic market research

And, for those of you who do go through the considerable effort of market research, scouring the reports from Jupiter, Gartner, or other industry watchdogs, you’re still missing the boat. This global look at the market is important, but not complete.

Unless you have unlimited budgets (and if you do, RPM would love to talk to you), the critical step of market research can’t be short-changed. To make sure you’ve covered all the bases, consider these four methods for a holistic market research effort:

  1. SURVEY Customers and potential customers, as well as colleagues in or around your industry or target market. One of the best market research sources you have, is your own customer base and      sphere of influence. Conduct a web survey (of no more than 5 questions) aimed  at pulling future trends from this valuable resource. Ask your customers  a) what the most important factor is for buying a product like yours; b) what is the biggest hurdle they’ll face in      next 12-months; and/or c) if they could change your product or service,  what would they like to see (and why). Choose three of the most important      research questions and have your sales team actually call those customers  who didn’t respond to the web survey for their answers!
  2. GATHER Team Input  It is important to include your internal staff when conducting market research. Your “front lines”  can pass on valuable “feet-on-the street” trends they see and  hear every day. Every team member from sales to product development to customer service can contribute important data that should be considered  in your marketing plan. It is also important to solicit team feedback INDIVIDUALLY and not as group input.  Research shows that group dynamics tend toward having the more vocal opinions expressed at the expense of quieter group members, or having such a general response as to not be relevant.    Once you’ve collected individual feedback, compile the results into one document and review for completeness, consistency, and consensus. Where      consensus is lacking, address as a team—using the data from your other research methods to guide the way.
  3. STUDY  Your Competition (consider “secret shopping” to  get the “real experience”).  I often      hear from clients “we know our competition.” Then, as our marketing team studies and “secret shops” the competition on their behalf, a completely different picture unveils itself. It’s important to an effective marketing strategy that we not make assumptions      about our competition (who they are, how they position themselves, their      strengths/weaknesses, etc.). If you don’t have the resources to conduct a thorough competitive study, hire someone who can. It will be enlightening, as well as valuable to the research you need for an effective marketing strategy.
  4. EVALUATE The Market (concentrate on information that indicates size, trends, and need). This is the method where most marketers focus all of their attention. It doesn’t, in and of itself,      provide a complete picture, but it is important to your strategic planning. When evaluating the market perspective, start with trade associations, publications, and research companies focused on your industry. Many of you can’t afford the reports or fees from the research companies covering your industry, but don’t be discouraged. Most of the reports include free executive summaries that will give you what you need.

Once you have gathered, compiled, and analyzed the information from these four research methods, you’ll want to summarize the significant points from your learning in the research section of your Marketing Plan.

This holistic approach to market research will give you everything you need to create an effective marketing roadmap.

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