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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Marketing Research: It's Chicken Soup for Your Marketing Plan

I just returned to the office after attending a trade show in Palm Springs, CA. While I was there I was approached by someone who was starting a new company and wanted to get some market research to confirm this entrepreneur's thoughts and ideas about a particular marketplace. I got to thinking that many of my clients don't often add market research as a component of their annual marketing plans. And I wondered why not. Of course, if you are starting a new company, I thought it would be wise to confirm your theories about the market trends but why don't established companies want to budget even a little bit of money to either purchase marketing research or design their own market research study? And even if they do spend the money, why does the report usually sit in a desk drawer and never is read or analyzed?

Well, I'm not sure that I've come up with a good answer, but I think sometimes we don't want to see or hear the truth. If your company is humming along at a pace that is comfortable to you, you probably don't want to hear that you should be moving in another direction. Or, if your company is making buggy whips, for example, you don't want to hear that the automobile has replaced the horse and buggy. I'm being facetious, of course. But, I think most of us plod along doing the same thing year after year because that's all we know how to do or because it's just too difficult to push that boulder up the hill. We don't want to make waves in our company. We don't want to get caught in the political crossfire. So, we don't do any market research.

Time to change your attitude about market research. It is an invaluable tool to either confirm that you are headed in the right direction with your marketing strategies or to pull you in the right direction. For example, if you find out that the particular market you currently serve is trending downward and that some other technology is replacing it, why wouldn't you want to re-applicate your product line or create an entire new product line to continue to serve your customer's needs?

Market research doesn't need to be expensive. There are two types of market research. The first type is called Primary market Research. This is research that you gather yourself. You could hire a market research company and spend thousands of dollars, but you may already have much of the information you need in-house. Talk to your sales reps. They can be a great source of industry information about your competitors, about your customer's wants and needs, and about general industry trends.

You can also plan a small focus group in conjunction with a trade show where you know your target audience will be attending. Develop a short 5 question survey and distribute via e-mail or on one of the social media sites. All of these ideas are very cost effective and easy to accomplish.

The second type of market research is secondary market research. You can find much of this type of research on the Internet. Some companies typically will sell their research studies for a fee. But, there is a lot of information for free on the Internet. You can garner this type of information from trade associations, government databases through the Freedom of Information Act, and don't forget your local library.

So, make a resolution for 2010 to gather information about your products, your customers, your competitors, or industry trends. You'll be able to make better strategic marketing decisions with good solid marketing data in hand.



Blogger Jaime said...

I'm currently doing this research, but at my company they call it customer development. It is going out there asking people what they think of an idea, what their needs are, and where can a process be improved.

I did it once and now I'm hooked. Now, I'll be using your idea of networking for customer development. Great post, tweeting it to the world.

January 27, 2010 6:34 AM  
Anonymous Jennifer Berkley said...

It warms my heart to hear this message spread...unfortunately, so many companies get complacent, thinking they know exactly what their customers/markets want...meanwhile, things are shifting/changing and so are your customers.

Thanks for getting the word out that getting some input/validation from your market is well worth the investment of time and could be THE thing that differentiates you from the competition.

January 27, 2010 8:32 AM  
Anonymous KIWI Communications, Inc. said...

Thanks Jaime for the information. I like the term "customer development". Maybe that makes the terminology "market research" more palatable within a company. Thanks for your comments. Keep sharing.

January 27, 2010 9:05 AM  
Anonymous KIWI Communications, Inc. said...

Thank you, Jennifer, for your comments. Yes, I agree that marketing research is an investment, not a cost. I'll keep spreading the word and hopefully more companies will see the light and become a convert to this essential marketing tactic.

January 27, 2010 9:11 AM  

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Name: KIWI Communications, Inc.

We specialize in helping companies in the biotechnology, life science, medical device, and high-tech sectors develop world-class, multi-faceted marketing programs. We work with companies like Beckman Coulter, Perkin-Elmer, and Stratagene to 1) create powerful results-driven marketing tactics, 2) evaluate media and advertising plans, and 3) develop consistent branding messages. Let us show you how to improve marketing efficiencies, reduce marketing costs, and develop targeted promotional strategies.

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