Why should I conduct marketing research?

Guessing — rather than knowing — what your customers are thinking can result in costly, preventable mistakes.

If you can't accurately predict how your target audience will react to new product or service offerings, you may very well end up with unnecessary failures.

Similarly, you need to know what advertising messages will resonate with your prospects. And, you need to know which advertising vehicles are most likely to work. If not, your marketing ROI is going to be lower than it should.

Implementing sound marketing research methodologies will result in improved market intelligence for your organization, including a chance to learn about the less obvious strengths and weaknesses of your competitors. Good market research will help eliminate risk by uncovering opportunities that would otherwise have gone without notice. It also will give your organization a smooth path to open communications with your customers, prospects and vendors.

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Won't the cost of research mean I'll have less to spend in deploying my strategies or tactics? (After all, the money have to come from somewhere.)

That's a common misconception when considering whether or not to employ research.

Yes, having research conducted is an out-of-pocket expenditure. But, not having the necessary research could be extremely pound-wise and penny-foolish. What if you launch a service that's not embraced by your target audience? What if your planned advertising campaign is clever, but your prospects don't respond as favorably as expected? What happens if you introduce a great new product but price it incorrectly? What if some of your major customers are ready to defect, and you don't find out until it's too late? Having upfront research conducted can save your organization a huge amount of unnecessary angst — and money.

That's why our clients consider the money they spend with us a smart investment. They can see how it makes a positive impact on their bottom lines. And, in the end, it costs them less than not having the research performed before costly corrective action needs to be taken.

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What are the steps to starting a research project?

The first step is to define the problem (or problems) as specifically as possible.

The next step is to decide whether you could obtain at least some of the answers you need without the help of a marketing research firm. You probably have more at your fingertips than you realize. Internal resources such as sales force feedback, financial analyses, and product sales reports are invaluable resources. Plus, the Internet can provide you a tremendous amount of information.

Once you've defined your problem and gathered as much information as possible on your own, you should contact a marketing research firm. The firm will then be able to determine what's the best methodology to suit your organization's needs. A written proposal describing what is recommended, along with a cost estimate, will be provided to you.

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What is the difference between primary and secondary research?

Secondary research consists of gathering information that has already been published from a variety of sources. Business periodicals, company documents such as press releases and government filings, and special studies from sources such as trade associations and syndicated research firms are all examples of this kind of information. You can obtain much of this information over the Internet.

Primary research is used when the information being sought is not available through existing resources. A primary source is an original source of information — usually proprietary to your organization. This research is most often done via telephone interviews, in-person interviews, focus groups, or online surveys; sometimes other methodologies — or a combination of methods — are employed.

Marketing research will cost time and money. Therefore, we recommend you always start with secondary research. In most cases, secondary research will not provide all the answers. Primary research is the next step. You should have primary research conducted when you cannot answer your marketing questions through secondary research. There is no need to reinvent the wheel.

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What is the difference between qualitative and quantitative research?

Qualitative research provides you with a lot of insights. Focus groups are a perfect example of qualitative research. But, they're conducted with fewer people than necessary to be able to project statistically valid results. The reactions you can obtain from several well-conducted focus groups, for example, can be invaluable. Quite often, after absorbing the reactions of focus groups, there is no need to proceed to larger, more extensive research studies.

Quantitative research, on the other hand, is projectable across a wide audience — assuming sufficient responses are obtained from the various segments. It ensures that your research represents the opinions of your entire target population. Some examples of quantitative research are large-scale telephone and online surveys. By having an adequate number of responses, an astute analyst is able to "slice and dice" the results in myriad ways, providing you with a host of useful information.

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What are client or member satisfaction surveys?

It's not easy to acquire — and retain — customers and members.
Astute marketers realize that meeting (or exceeding) their customers' expectations — and improving the customers' experience — should ultimately lead to retention.

Enhancing customer satisfaction focuses on improving operational processes and functions such as sales, customer service, and billing. This involves understanding the behaviors of your customers and prospects, including uncovering their hot buttons and motivators.

Satisfaction surveys can be conducted either via telephone interviews or online. Depending on your particular organization, as well as how often your customers or members buy products or services — or are expected to renew their membership — we can perform these studies on an ongoing, monthly, quarterly, or annual basis. And, they can be conducted either over your entire target audience or just specific segments that deserve special attention such as your high-volume clients.

The results of these studies will enable you to learn what needs to be done to make your operations as customer-friendly and focused as possible.

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How much does a typical survey project cost?

That's somewhat like telling you what an automobile or house will cost without knowing all the facts. (If a marketing research firm provides you with a cost estimate from a menu, it's exceedingly likely they'll handle your unique situation in a cookie-cutter fashion, as well.)

What we prefer to do is to first speak to you to learn as much as possible about your situation and find out what information you need — and why.

Our pricing will vary, depending on a multiplicity of factors such as the methodology used, the number and complexity of questions to be answered, and the number of interviews that need to be completed. If your target population is difficult to contact, this will also play a part in pricing the project.

Please know that we are extremely sensitive to your budget constraints. If you tell us your objectives and share your anticipated budget — we will do our utmost to stay within your parameters. We are not magicians, but we are creative with respect to problem solving.

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We have our own research department. Why should I consider augmenting it?

No matter how proficient your staff, you may occasionally want the assurance of outside objectivity; we are impartial — neither "for" nor "against" any of your departments, programs, or budgets. Or, you may be faced with a project for which you don't have sufficient resources; if so, we can pick up the whole project — or any portion of it. This will allow you to meet your critical deadlines.

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