What is market research?
Market research is the process of analyzing, interpreting and gathering information about a product, market or service. There are so many reasons why market research is important. This valuable step in the public relations and marketing process can lead to increased sales and conversions. Research helps you become aware and equipped with information about your product’s chance of success and potential vulnerabilities. This might seem tedious at times, but companies that utilize market research have a better chance of growth and success.
It seems so simple, but few businesses take the time to listen and evaluate what their customers are saying. As marketing experts, it’s our job to serve as a guide and lead client strategy in a manner that helps them achieve their goals. All too often, firms (and clients) want to operate in the reverse – jumping to what they think works best without this critical listening step.
The key to research is to look beyond the data. When conducting research, keep your goals in mind. Special attention should be given to understanding the underlying messages. By understanding the “heart” of the research, your organization shows it cares about its consumers in a personal and engaging way. As a result, this attentiveness to your consumer base builds loyalty and increases sales for your organization. The following is a guide to proactively improving client relations while developing a market research strategy that moves the needle.
1. Analyze your customers.
Think about the last time a vendor asked for your feedback. It’s pretty rare, right? More than likely, it was a survey at the bottom of a receipt at the store, which may have felt like the market research would end up at the bottom of someone’s database.
Quality feedback takes time and should be handled like a public relations move. There are a variety of ways this can be done:
Picking up the phone and talking to your past, present and potential clients can be one of the most insightful tactics you can deploy. Aim for a solid cross section of the good, bad and ugly client engagements. You want to hear from the people who had a negative experience and understand what went wrong as much as you need to understand why a star client is thriving with your organization. Allow the conversation to flow, but refer often to a set list of questions often to ensure you are pulling consistent data.
If you’re looking for larger group feedback, focus groups can be an efficient way to garner input. As a result, this method offers momentum from other participants and can often lead to inadvertent brainstorming of new ideas. However, beware: focus groups are also prone to “group think,” in which louder voices dominate the conversation and quieter voices follow behind.
Surveys certainly have their place in measuring feedback from customers. However, they likely shouldn’t be the only method. Even the most carefully crafted survey lacks the in-depth findings that focus groups and one-on-one interviews provide. Think through modes of distribution, incentives for completion and what you hope to measure to maximize the benefit of this method.
2. Conduct a digital landscape for online market research.
You can find a wealth of information about what is working simply by understanding the current digital environment. First, dive into Google Analytics – this free tool helps you understand how customers are using your website, where they are coming from and weak spots in your current user experience. Next, use tools like Sprout Social to look at your social media statics. Which posts garner the most attention? How do customers interact with your page? What complaints do you get and how are they handled? These are all valuable clues to layer into the bigger picture of what your customers want.
3. Identify the gaps.
Now, take a step back. Review the qualitative data from your surveys and the quantitative findings from your digital landscape. What’s working? Where are you leading? What are gaps and opportunities? What are the overarching themes in your research? This critical step is where you can develop a customized PR or marketing plan to help achieve your goals.
4. Marketing research includes evaluating your service offerings.
In conclusion, when you complete this research process, you will possess a lot of information about what your customers value about working with your organization. Take the time to truly listen to the feedback and search for the underlying messages. No organization is perfect. What are the consistent shortcomings? Where and how can you improve?
These are questions that are difficult to ask when things are going well, but they are crucial to continuing to evolve as an organization. In the PR and marketing industry in particular, the tools and strategies are constantly changing. Above all, we have to invest the time and resources to ensure we stay at the cutting edge so we can bring the best to our clients.
Resolute PR’s Market Research Philosophy
When we onboard a new client, we prefer to approach our initial market research through a two-pronged approach. First, there is qualitative research, such as one-on-one interviews and focus groups. This allows us as a company to get to know our client through the eyes of their stakeholders, employees and community members. Second, we collect quantitative research through data. This data comes from a variety of sources, such as Google Analytics, search engine optimization research and social media analytics.
Once we’ve compiled our research, we’re ready to present a strategy. We never want to take a shot in the dark when it comes to recommending a service area to our clients. If we find our client has strong brand recognition, we won’t suggest a new logo. If they’re already generating buzz, we may suggest a paid campaign to complement their ongoing efforts. No matter what, it all comes back to research.