Ready, Set,…Wait! How to Prepare for a Marketing Plan from the Start
by Jen Pearsall, 11/18/2009 5:20:56 PM | with 0 comments
Market research, like a marketing or communications plan, doesn't come one size fits all. The process by which you develop and implement a plan depends on your organization’s needs and goals. Below I’ve outlined some of the general points I keep in mind when I embark on a new research project with a client.
There are a variety of ways to conduct the research. From focus groups (qualitative) to surveys (quantitative), the type of research you choose to pursue will depend on your business’ needs. As a general rule of thumb, qualitative is best at the beginning stages of research, when you don’t know exactly what you are looking for and need rich description to help you define your goals. Quantitative is best used later in the research process when you know what information you are looking for and need to classify it with numerical data.
Solid results require solid questions. The questions you ask are just as important as the data gathered. Make sure you're posing questions that will provide you with the information you need. Your questions need to clear and concise and you need to make sure they are eliciting the responses you're looking for. Test the questions on people who are not developing the study to avoid any ambiguity.
You need the right people answering. A strong set of questions won't prove useful if you're not surveying the right audience. Make sure your sample is representative of your target.
At the end of the day, research makes sense. Market research doesn't usually produce unexpected results. The outcome may not be what you wanted to hear, and it may provide new insight that you never considered, but the findings make sense. When they don’t, the data may not be correct.
Research is a great way to learn more about your customers and create communications plans that really resonate with your audience. However, poorly conducted research can be extremely detrimental, so make sure you take the time to develop a research plan that works for your needs.