Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Research, Research, Research

New Year, New Marketing? How is it all going so far?

If you are still unsure what activities to carry out this year or indeed who your customers are / what they want, then market research is the most useful activity you could carry out this year. If you don’t know what your target market’s needs and wants are, how can you market to them? Research should be the foundation of whatever you do in marketing terms. In fact, it is one of the most important aspects of marketing.

Below you will find a simple, step-by-step guide to conducting a basic research project. Try giving it a go.

1. Identify your objectives
What do you want to know about the market and why?

2. Source secondary data
You may be able to find all the information that you need through existing sources or studies, yet it is unlikely what you find will be specific enough. The data may also be dated or biased. Secondary data will however, form the basis for any primary research that you do and is an essential step.

3. Identify an appropriate sample
Think about who to talk to in order to get a representative sample of the target market. Aim to contact a cross section of your target market as well as opinion leaders and specialists.

4. Focus groups
Focus groups provide in-depth, qualitative information. You may decide that you want to carry out this activity to highlight the issues in the market and to help in designing a questionnaire. Look out over the coming weeks for a look at this topic in more depth.

5. Designing questionnaires
Topics in the questionnaire should all relate to the objectives of your research. Avoid asking ‘nice to know’ questions and keep the questionnaire short. Otherwise those completing the questionnaire might give up half way through or not complete the survey at all. We will also look at questionnaires more closely over the next few weeks should you wish to carry out one of your own.

6. Conducting the research
Make sure that it is as easy as possible for respondents to participate, and free. You may want to offer some kind of incentive to participants to encourage their involvement. Choose an optimal location, time and manner of approach. And, if appropriate, ensure confidentiality of their response.

7. Collate and analyse the information gathered
The analysis should be focused on the information needs set out by the objectives at the start of the research. Make sure that the findings are firmly based on the facts and are completely impartial.

8. Prepare the report
Your research report should follow the same basic outline every time – Objectives, Methodology, Limitations, Findings, Conclusions and Recommendations.

You wouldn’t think of making an important investment or purchase in your personal life without doing some research first. Why should it be any different when it comes to making an investment in the marketing of your business?

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