More often than not the critical step of conducting market research is skipped when developing a marketing strategy. The oversight is typically because of lack of funding and time. However, the good news is market research does not have to be a costly and overwhelming undertaking. If budgets or time will not allow for full-blown research, reach out to customers, media and employees.
1. Document Current Perceptions
Before launching a market research project, start by documenting your target audience (demographically and psychographically), existing opportunities and challenges, brand perceptions, motivators and barriers to customer engagement and the best marketing strategies to achieve your goals based on what you believe to be true about your organization and audience.
2. Tap an Existing Audience
No need to purchase an expensive list or hire a staff of survey administrators – use the resources you already have available to gauge brand perceptions and market behavior. Existing customers provide valuable insight to help shape your strategy. After all, they are already invested in your brand, so why not find out exactly why that is? Use online survey software like Survey Monkey or Zoomerang to set up a short and simple questionnaire with the goal of confirming or refuting the perceptions you documented. Offer an incentive to help increase the response rate.
Also, survey your staff and key industry media to provide additional insight.
3. Update Marketing Strategy
Once you have collected responses and summarized findings, analyze how the data you collected impacts on your original perceptions. Use what you learn to:
- Modify your campaign objectives to include any necessary change in belief or behavior among target audiences
- Confirm, narrow, expand or even redefine your target audience
- Identify key brand messaging
- Identify essential creative themes or elements – both copy and images – to repeat or avoid
- Modify planned communication channels to align with market preferences
- Establish a baseline for measuring the impact of your campaign
Market research can be simple or complex depending on the resources available. At the very least, it is essential to collect and analyze feedback readily available from existing customers, staff and brand constituents to shape a more effective and measurable marketing plan.