This will be the last blog in my series on market research. In previous blogs, I posed questions to challenge senior managers and business owners in thinking about their businesses. Do You Really Know Your Customers?, I raised questions on understanding your market … meaning, do you know your brand, your customers, your competitors and your industry?
I’ve discussed the additional challenges that all marketers face today with a rapidly changing and dynamic reality in 3 Truths Why Market Research Is Even More Necessary Today. Finally, in Get Started with Market Research in Your Organization, I outlined the critical types of information that we as marketers would like to know about every one of our customers.
Whether you’re starting a new business or have one that’s already established, market research is fundamental to your short- and long-term success. In this blog, I’ve outlined the basic elements of a marketing information system in a mind map. Putting this process in place, your team will learn how to find information quickly, or execute the appropriate market research to more effectively build your brand.
There are three primary information resources that your marketing information system should include: Secondary Research, Primary Research and Internet/Web Presence.
Secondary research, in general, is published, existing information often produced for another primary purpose. This is a rich and productive area for many types of research information, and a smart researcher will have their set of secondary research resources for ongoing access to inexpensive, timely industry research, as well as competitive and market information.
- Trade associations serve their constituents with industry statistics and consumer survey information geared for news organizations, analysts and smaller companies.
- Industry and Competitive Assessment can be found with resources like First Research, or if you wanted to market to the legal industry, sources like IBIS World are available on demand at very low cost vs developing the information yourself. Industry Research access to Company financial reports and annual reports are examples.
- Government data is widely available to help your organization understand economic, business, and population trends affecting your industry, market and customers.
- Marketing information from professional marketing and advertising sources provides your marketing team the latest trends, tools and strategies used by top marketers in other industries and businesses.
Primary research is original data collected by a researcher to provide answers that are specific to an industry, company or market and typically not available in secondary research sources. Primary research is far more expensive than secondary research and takes longer to obtain results, but offers greater control in design, scope, question areas, target respondents and analytic approaches. Secondary research has typically been exhaustively reviewed before conducting primary research.
Research plans or research designs include three basic types: exploratory, descriptive and causal.
- Exploratory designs focus on ideas and insights to understand a new opportunity area, or to identify problem areas. A company wanting to understand a market that it isn’t competing in might use this approach. Common methods used include depth interviews, focus groups, ethnography, and benchmarking.
- Descriptive research designs are used to describe a market, segment, groups of people. An example might be a market structure study to determine the consumer dynamics and map their decision process. Another example might be to determine the profile of buyers of competitive products.
- Causal research focuses on cause and effect relationships. Promotional research might help to determine which offers might generate higher responses among different consumer segments, or advertising impact from different media weights might be used to determine the optimal budget levels on a larger scale.
At the most basic level, it is easy and inexpensive to capture almost real-time information about the reach of your website, blog, and landing pages with tools like Google Analytics. Google even offers free webinars on how to set up and use their tools.
- Social media tracking can be accomplished with inexpensive tools like Sprout Social or new Brand Analytics.
- Local Citation and Search is important to lock down your brand name, address and phone number in the local directory listings, especially if you have moved your offices recently.
- Finally, there are many ESPs, email service providers to help manage and diagnose your email campaigns. Depending on the importance of email in your marketing mix, you can start with inexpensive tools from ESPs like MailChimp or Constant Contact.
- Moving into marketing automation makes sense as your business needs expand into segmentation of your target list or scoring prospects and running more complex campaigns. It requires a far greater commitment in terms of expense, content development, and operation. Marketo or Vocus are examples.
There you have it. Now set up your marketing information system and get to know your market, your customers, and your competitors in a whole new way.