Why Marketing Research is Important to Your Business

Market Research
Getty Images / Thomas Barwick

Just the phrase market research can make people feel overwhelmed, by understanding what it is and why it's important you can be relieved of those tensions.  I think most people get confused, by not understanding that there is a difference in market research and marketing research, let me explain.

Market research is when you have narrowed down a specific "target" and you are delving into the behavior of that target.

In other words, it's research into a very narrow group of consumers.

Marketing research is different. Different because it's dealing with a broader range of consumers. Marketing research includes "market" research, but it also delves into new product research and distribution methods. The best way to differentiate the two is to understand that marketing research is really about researching the marketing process of a company, not just who they are targeting.

Your marketing research will include the following steps and in each step, I have listed common questions that are typically asked:

  1. Problem Definition: The problem is the focus of your research. Example: Why are sales soaring in the midwest, but dismal in other parts of the country?
     
  2. Data Collection Method and Needs: How will you collect the data that you will need to solve the problem? Will you use surveys, telephone calls or focus groups on the internet?
     
  1. Determine Sample Method: What sampling method will you use? Sampling represents those you will collect information from. Will it be a random sampling, a sampling that contains a similar element or a natural sampling?
     
  2. Data Analysis: How will you analyze the data? Will you use software or do it by hand? How accurate do the results need to be?
     
  1. Determine Budget and Timeframe: How much are you willing to spend on the research and how soon must the research be complete?
     
  2. Data Collection: Proceed in data collection based on answers in Steps 1- 5.
     
  3. Analysis of the Data: Conduct the analysis of the data that has been collected in the previous Step.
     
  4. Error Check: Check for errors in data. It is not uncommon for errors to be found in data collected. Errors can be in the sampling method, data collections as well as just analytical mistakes.
     
  5. Create Your Report: The final step of marketing research is to draft a report on your findings. Your report should contain tables, charts, and or diagrams. It's important that your report clearly communicates the results that you found in your research. Your findings should lead to a solution to the problem you identified in Step 1.

3 Key Benefits of Market Research

Market research while daunting and can be a lot of work it also provides many benefits. It takes the guesswork out of marketing and gives you data that you can use to drive your marketing strategy and accomplish your objectives and goals.   It's a systematic approach that with an investment can make your marketing not only easier but more effective.

 

Market research benefits include:

  • Communication Driver. It drives your communication with current customers and target prospects. 
  • Identifies Opportunity.  Market research will show you where the opportunities are and help you identify not only the high-level opportunities but will also assist in showing you the more immediate "low hanging fruit" opportunities. 
  • Lowers Risk.  Detailed data can help you in lowering risk. It shows you were the opportunities that will produce results are and keeps you focused and voiding the "squirrel syndrome" when it comes to your marketing. 

Helpful resources when it comes to understanding market research:

Green Book Blog - A blog about charting the future of market research published by the American Marketing Association. 

Market Research - The balance offers a section about all things market research, a great resource for all things market research.

Quirks - A collaboration of case studies, articles, and tools pertaining to market research and insights. 

The Survey Geek-  Reg Baker provides great information regarding market research.  He explores new methods but is also informative about being sucked in by the "shiny object" of market research.  A must read for anyone involved in market research or just wanting to learn more.