When it comes to the world of marketing and advertising, the biggest weapon that you can have against obscurity and stagnating sales is information. Marketing research provides you with the information. We will be looking at this very important tool in detail, including the history of market research and how to do it effectively. If you dont think that market research is important to your business, then you definitely need to keep reading.
What is Marketing Research?
Marketing research is defined as the processes and techniques that are used to gather information from customers and end-users to help the producer or marketer see opportunities or problems, and understand how they can adjust their strategy to be more effective.
Marketing research allows a company to see things from the perspective of different customers. They are able to monitor their marketing performance by getting information from those customers or people just like them and it helps to understand the entire marketing process. Of course, marketing research isnt always done with people. Lets take a look at all of the various aspects of market research including technique, research models and the history of the practice.
The History of Marketing Research
If you watch television, you are probably familiar with the Nielsen ratings. Arthur Nielsen was actually the pioneer behind modern marketing research. This research began by interviewing customers one-on-one or in focus groups, as well as doing pen and paper or telephone surveys. Obviously, things have changed a great deal since the Internet came along. As e-commerce and web advertising grew, advertisers began to realize that there was a great deal of information that could be collected from the people that were visiting websites. This is led to an entirely new way of conducting market research.
Why is Marketing Research Important?
Market research is extremely important. If you have a product or service to sell, you have to know the best way to communicate with your potential customers, what information they need from you and most importantly, what will convince them to buy. Marketing research provides companies with accurate, up-to-date and reliable information about customer buying habits. This is important because customer buying habits change fast. For example, most people wouldnt dream of buying something online these days without checking out reviews from previous customers. Companies have to be able to understand customer behavior so that they can create campaigns that will give them the biggest returns.
Who needs to do Marketing Research?
What kinds of company should be doing marketing research? When business is not good, companies can find it just difficult to justify spending money on this research. This is especially true for small businesses. In fact, businesses that are struggling are the prime candidates for marketing research. Any company that plans to launch an advertising campaign or spend money manufacturing and distributing a product needs to do research beforehand to find out how they could spend the least amount of money and get the most amount of return on a particular advertising campaign.
Market Research Primary Data
There are two types of data when it comes to market research. The first of these is called primary data. Primary data is information that you collect directly from the source. You may do this within your own company, or you may hire an outside market research company to do it for you. The two types of primary data you can gather include exploratory data and specific data. Exploratory data has the advantage of allowing the respondent to say exactly what they think, which is useful if you do not have a question in your survey that wouldve elicited that response. On the other hand, exploratory data may not give you the information that you most need. Specific primary data will do that.
Market Research Secondary Data
The second type of data you could collect is called secondary data. Secondary data involves gathering up research that has already been done for you. The reason that this type of data collection is preferred by some includes the fact that most of the information is widely available free-of-charge on the Internet, and usually compiled in an easy to digest format.
Secondary data can come from multiple sources such as scientific articles, books and many other sources. Government agencies, trade associations, chambers of commerce and the media can all be excellent sources of secondary data. It is important that you try to gather as much primary data as you can, but secondary data can be useful as well. While much of this information is available free-of-charge, some of it you may have to pay for. However, the main downside for collecting secondary data is that you have to do the research yourself or hire someone else to do it, and depending upon the market information that you need, it can be difficult to find.
The bottom line is that marketing research is vital for any company that wants to improve its marketing strategies and connect better with their customers. By using a combination of primary and secondary data, you can find out exactly what your customers want and use it to shape your next ad campaign.
There are several things that a marketing plan is intended to do. First, it helps you identify things such as your market, your clients, your customers, products and more. It also helps you see which marketing methods are going to work for you and which ones will probably fail. A marketing plan will also help you estimate the total cost of starting your business, which includes not only the startup cost, but the operating costs, and your own plan for how you will live while your business is not yet making a profit.
Creating a Marketing Plan for an Existing Business
You may already have a business, but the odds are good that it isn’t as successful as you would like it to be. Thats something that every business struggles with. If you want to create a marketing plan for an existing business from scratch, it works the same way as creating a marketing plan for a new business. You just have less freedom and how you create your plan because some things are already certain.
Building a Marketing Plan from Scratch
Now, let’s go over the step-by-step process that is required to build a marketing plan completely from scratch. You will use a template for this marketing plan that can be understood by other people, which is a very good strategy if you are trying to get a business loan.
You will start with your executive summary. This is basically a summary of all of the other sections in the business plan or marketing plan that are listed below. This will allow anyone reading your plan to get an overview before they get into the more in-depth stuff.
Your Target Audience
This is where you will describe your target market. You must know who is most likely to buy your products or services, so that you can focus the majority of your efforts marketing towards those people. This means doing some research and coming up with demographic data such as geographic location, age, gender and more. You will also be identifying the wants and needs of this target customer and how they relate to your own products and services.
The Unique Selling Proposition
Your USP, or what is sometimes called you X factor, is what makes your business unique from all of the other ones on the market in the context of selling something. The term unique selling proposition is fairly common in the business world, and the best way for you to be able to create your own USP is to look at some well-known companies and determine what their unique selling proposition is.
Pricing and Market Position Strategy
You have to know where you are in the market and how your price factors into that. That doesn’t necessarily mean having lower price than other businesses that sell the same products or services you do. In fact, some businesses out there market themselves as the highest quality rather than the lowest price. Are you planning to be leading the market for high quality, lowest price, most variety or some other factor? Understand what your position is in the market before you begin.
Your Distribution Plan
Finally, you need to have a distribution plan in place. If you are going to be selling products that you buy wholesale, then you are going to need to know who your suppliers are, where you are going to store your products, how you are going to get them to the customer, how the customer is going to purchase them and probably a lot more. If you are going to be selling online, and plan to offer a digital product, you still have to know where that product is going to come from and how you are going to deliver it to your customer.
Your Promotional Plan
Next, you need to have some ideas in place for how you are going to promote your product. For example, if you are planning to start a website that sells low-priced laptop speakers, how are you going to tell people that you have lots of different choices and very low prices on laptop speakers? Where are the laptop users going to be? You have to know how your messages going to get to them and what you were going to say.
A marketing plan isn’t that difficult to come up with, but you do need to have all of the elements in place, particularly if you plan on talking to investors or applying for a business loan. With a solid marketing plan, you will have a much easier time running your business and ensuring its success for the long term.