Effective marketing comes after market research

How many of us in business actually research our market before jumping straight in and starting a new business or embarking on a marketing drive? I would guess that most businesses have the idea first and then go straight to market without even asking anyone (especially their target market) whether their idea is a good one or not!

In a nutshell, if you define marketing as “identifying and then supplying customer needs,” my feeling is that market research provides the objective means of achieving this and, without conducting research, how do you know if there will be a demand for your business or not?

Being armed with a clear understanding of these “needs” prior to you building your sales & marketing plan could make all the difference. In addition, the results of the market research you employ should allow your organisation to differentiate itself from its competitors and hence build your brand and win business.

I believe there are roughly 5 main approaches you could employ when looking at research and these are – researching benefits and limitations, whether (and how) to brief a research agency, DIY research, qualitative studies and quantitative studies.

I could go over all 5, but for the SME, it is the DIY research that is probably most attractive as the costs are generally low and the business owner can drive things. So…….what areas do I suggest you look at?

Define your sample – the size, the location, the demographics etc
Choose your research method – telephone, email, face to face etc
Design a quality questionnaire – make it thorough and reflective
Collect your data
Clean your data
Make sure that all info is stored on your database
Interpret and report

None of the above is set in stone, but, in my experience, I would always want to invest time with the organisation I am working with to find out what they are all about before I started putting down a concrete plan……….and maybe, by researching their “offer” the process of marketing could be made slicker and more effective for the potential client too!

Just a thought…..

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