How Can Research Help Your Messaging? - (Archived)

message testing
When an advertising campaign can potentially cost millions of dollars, it’s critical the message resonates with the audience. Research can help ensure a good return on marketing investment via ad, message, and new product testing. On Wednesday, February 8, 2017, Research Director, Dave Glantz, will lead the next in our Best Practices webinar series: “Using Research to Successfully Introduce New Products, Services, and Campaigns.” Here is a sneak peek of what to expect in Dave’s webinar.

Dave Glantz

Dave Glantz, Research Director

MC: Why is ad, message, and/or new product testing important?

Dave: The way a company communicates with its audience can cast the product and the company in either a positive or a negative light. For instance, the tone and terminology of the message can reassure and empower the target audience. Or, it is possible the message can come across as aloof or “salesy,” perhaps because of over-used buzz words. Or, it could just confuse the audience or simply rub them the wrong way. Sometimes you can’t know which way a message will land until you test it.

And with product testing, I’ve had clients learn their initial concept placed the most emphasis on features and information that were of relatively little importance to the target audience while placing little or no emphasis on the attributes that matter most. Both understanding the product and ensuring the marketing communications emphasize the benefits are equally important.

MC: Do you have any examples of when the company learned something they weren’t expecting?

Dave: I can think of a few instances. In one, a client wanted to combine two of their publications into one, thinking it would benefit their subscribers. However, the subscribers strongly rejected that re-organization and for reasons that had not occurred to the client. If the client had gone ahead with the re-organization based on their own assumptions, but not on the opinions of their readership, they would very likely have faced a steep decline in subscriptions.

Another example is a government department that wanted to disseminate information to several target audiences, with the goal of having them complete an online form. They assumed people would want to complete the form on their mobile devices, and were getting ready to do the development for that. In the product-testing research, we found this was not the case at all — in fact, most of their audience was wary about using mobile devices to input sensitive information.

This discovery led to design changes to better accommodate the habits and needs of the target audience. Had the agency based product development off of their assumptions, they would have spent considerable money developing a tool their audience wouldn’t use.

I think these examples show the importance of conducting research: so you won’t be blindsided by something you didn’t expect. Companies can potentially spend a lot of money on product development, messaging, advertising, and positioning. If they don’t have an unbiased road map showing potential obstacles, they might as well just roll the dice.

MC: As you’re researching and preparing for this webinar, what piece of advice do you have for people who are interested in attending it?

Dave: There is a lot rolled up into the communications around a product or service. I believe when done properly, message and ad testing can give you an idea of how meaningful the message is because it probes into the appeal, the credibility, the relevance, and other aspects of how you are communicating with the audience. And it can assess the person’s likelihood to act on the information.

This is the type of information we can probe in a focus group setting where we can learn whether the audience responds positively, negatively or even indifferently to the product, and they can tell us why they feel that way and how to change the message.

Having the client and key stakeholders, including the product designers and ad agency, behind the glass to witness the participants’ reaction is a valuable and often an eye-opening experience. This allows them to hear first-hand what the audience is saying. And when they’re observing the focus groups, they see what the moderator sees — including the non-verbal communications, such as gestures, the look on a person’s face during an a-ha moment, or people physically recoiling at what they have heard or read.

At the end of the day, you may have an industry-changing product or service. But if your messaging isn’t right when it hits the market, that won’t really matter.

Whether it’s to create new and effective communication strategies or hone the messaging around a particular product, research can help make the most of your investment.

Register now for this complimentary webinar.

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