Knowledge is power. We’ve all heard the saying and likely agree wholeheartedly that it is true, yet many companies spend their precious marketing dollars with little data to support their decisions. Or, as we’ve seen again in this latest recession, many companies take uncertainty as a reason to shut down their marketing and advertising altogether.
It is easy to decide that market research is an additional expense you can’t afford, however it might be more helpful to think of it as advertising insurance. Most of us think very little about insuring the large investment we make in our homes. Spending a few thousand dollars on market research can provide invaluable market intelligence that helps ensure hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more) are spent on campaign creative and ad placements in the most effective ways.
Recently, one of our food processing clients wanted us to help update the company logo and tagline they had been using for decades. Obviously this is a decision that would not be taken lightly by management, as these new brand elements would be put on everything from stationary and business cards, to signage and company trucks. An expensive proposition, but this brand evolution would help them to represent positive changes in how they service customers and new product lines that would greatly enhance the solutions they provide. We knew however that it would be critical to build on the brand equity the company already had in the market.
Our client agreed the best way to determine what their customers truly felt about them was to go out and ask. Members of our team rode along with company sales representatives to perform field research interviews with several of their customers. The result was a much clearer picture of how customers currently viewed our client — in many cases the results of our interviews were unexpected by company management — and clear direction on how to direct the creative process.
Market research can provide a great deal of extremely valuable information, for example:
- Are there customer needs currently unmet by you or your competitors?
- What specific ways do customers wish you would improve your products or services? How about your competitors’ product and services?
- Does the new advertisement or brochure you are developing really tell customers and prospects what they need to hear to want your product?
- Where do customers actually look for information on your product category (e.g. are you spending your money in the right places)?
Market research doesn’t need to be expensive, and it can be immensely valuable to your business. Knowing what your customers think or what your competitors’ weaknesses are can provide key opportunities for new success. When it comes to selling more than your competitors, knowledge is truly the most powerful thing you can have.
Judson Luke is vice president/director of research at LePoidevin Marketing, a strategic public relations and marketing firm based in Brookfield, Wis. He can be reached at 262-754-9550; firstname.lastname@example.org.