Making market research effective

Many companies, both big and small struggle with how to go about getting the data they need to run their business and increase revenue/profits.  From my experience as a market research consultant, I see companies spending way too much time and money on research they don’t need and too little time and money on the research they do need. 

Let’s face it; we all have to do more with less.   Market research is very important to a company’s success.  So, you need to make sure your market research as effective as possible—regardless of how much you have to spend on the research.

Here is my 2 cents on how to increase the effectiveness of your market research:

  • Determine what you want to do with the information first— I can’t tell you how many times I have seen companies waste money on research because they didn’t have a well thought out plan for what actions they expected to take from the data they collected.  They just threw together a questionnaire with questions to which they thought they would like to know the answer.    So what did that lead to?  They completed their survey only to determine that three or four critical questions they needed to ask were missing!  To me, this is the most heart breaking part of market research!
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel—there is a lot of quality data out there that has already been collected; data that might answer most, if not all, the questions you need answered. And, depending on the source of that data, it could be infinitely cheaper to buy someone else’s data/report than to generate the data on your own.  If nothing else, it can provide you with a starting point for your research. 
  • Understand your client base first—the biggest mistake that companies make when doing new product or new market research is they don’t understand their own customer base.  Specifically, they don’t spend enough time (and perhaps money) to understand the customers they really want to go after.  Thus, they waste market research dollars on segments that they should never be going after.
  • Don’t forget about competitive intelligence—to determine the needs and wants your customers have, you sometimes need to look no further than what your competitors are saying in their advertising and the marketing materials.  And, there are companies, like Compremedia that can help you track your competitors’ marketing materials and advertising!
  • Train your staff to be market researchers—for those of you that sell to the public in a retail store type of environment, you have a gold mine!  All you need to do is train your staff to conduct qualitative research for you (for free).  This can be as simple as reminding your staff to ask customers a few simple, but important questions:
    • What brought you into the store today—helps you test your marketing/advertising effectiveness
    • What other stores are you planning to go to today—helps you better understand your competitive set
    • Do you live in the area—helps you understand where your client base is coming from, thus helps you better design your direct marketing campaigns

 Market research can be very effective in helping a business drive sales, but it doesn’t have to be expensive.  All of this said, do yourself a favor and consult an expert if the data you need is complex.  You shouldn’t do that on your own. 

Happy marketing!

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