Marketing involves making decisions regarding hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of variables. As a marketer you have to consider branding, pricing, distribution, customer needs, product quality, reputation, competition, and many more. Marketing research, done right, will provide you with the information you need to make the best decisions possible. Fact-based and data-driven marketing strategy will always be superior to one based on general impressions and anecdotal information.
Myth 1: Marketing Research Costs Too Much
Marketing research is mostly about risk mitigation and optimizing resource allocation. The insights gained from marketing research will tell you in advance whether or not to invest in a particular new product, and will show you what marketing investment resonated with your audience. Furthermore, marketing research project come in all sizes and they fit, just-about, any budget. Your marketing research provider should work with you to identify the upfront-decision-making-confidence investment that is most suitable to your budget.
Myth 2: Research Firms Can’t Help Because They Don’t Know Our Business
Nobody will ever know your business as well as you do. However, a good researcher does not have to know your business to that level in order to design and conduct a beneficial study that will yield valuable information. Having said that, it is important to clearly state that the researcher has to understand your business to a certain degree prior to performing any research for you. At our firm, we make sure we spend considerable amount of time talking to the client’s leadership and studying our client’s records prior to submitting a proposal for any research project.
Having a fresh perspective is actually a benefit gained from hiring an “outsider” to conduct a marketing research. Experienced researchers also bring viewpoints and ideas from other industries and other categories you might have not considered previously.
Myth 3: We Already Know Everything About Our Customers
Sure you know your customers, but do you really know all you need to know about them? For example, do you know what truly motivates them or what made them choose your product as opposed to others? And do you know if they ever purchased a competitive product and why? Can you tell when they will be ready to purchase again or how to motivate them to do so? Marketing research will give you all these answers and more, so you can engage your customers and potential customers better, increase sales, and make more profit!
Another point to consider is that customers and their behaviors change over time. Your customers are influenced by economic conditions, competing brands, their experience with your product and a myriad of other variables. It is a good practice to monitor customers’ behavior and solicit their feedback regularly to make sure you really know them well.
Myth 4: We Can Conduct Marketing Research Ourselves
The fundamental key to a good research is objectivity. Everyone inside your organization has a certain bias – some biases intentional, most are completely subconscious. These biases would affect the sample chosen for the study, the way questions are worded, and the way questions are being asked… just to name a few problems. Also, when surveying people, they will tend to respond differently when asked by employees of the company, as opposed to a third party research firm.
In addition, do you really want to divert internal resources that focus on revenue-generating efforts to conduct research activities? And do you have the expertise in-house to choose the correct sample size to produce the desired confidence level and margin of error, for example, or construct an accurate ranking scale? Marketing research is a science that requires specific knowledge and experience to deliver real value.
Myth 5: We Already Have Enough Data
The good news is that since most transactions and communications with customers are electronic, we can accumulate a lot of data. The bad news is that sometimes we have too much data, not necessarily the right data, and the fact is that that most organizations do not analyze it enough or properly. The right research firm will help you determine what data should be collected and examined. Knowledgeable researchers will help you decipher the date, analyze it, interpret it, and provide you with actionable insights.
Myth 6: We Get All The Information We Need From Our Annual Satisfaction Survey
Satisfaction surveys that are done correctly are great, but they are just a small portion of what you need to formulate your marketing strategy. Satisfaction surveys tend to responded to by two types of customers: those with very good experiences and those with bad experiences; and therefore do not provide a true reflection of the entire body of customers.
In addition, satisfaction surveys (and surveys in general, for the most part) provide us with quantitative data – how many feel or think a certain way. They do not provide us with qualitative data such as ‘why’ or ‘how’ regarding customer behavior. Quality research is scientifically and employs several methodologies (both quantitative and qualitative) that are designed to provide a true snapshot of customer satisfaction, attitude, and behavior.
Lastly, the information you need to devise your marketing strategy goes beyond customer feedback. You need to consider you brand’s perception in the marketplace (of non-customers too), you should keep tabs on your competitors, and know where opportunities and threats in your industry might be.