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The Dilemma
Many small to mid-sized businesses are often caught in a “To Market Research or Not To Market Research” dilemma and by Market Research, I mean traditional market research methods like focus groups, survey polls, etc. So why is there this dilemma? To nail it, it’s because of time and money. As a business manager you are often crunched for time before product launches, ad campaigns, and constrained by budget too.

So then you may ask – how to market research? Use tools like Survey Monkey? Sure, if you feel all you need is a range of 100 – 250 responses per month … Or, if you are a small business or network surveying your internal staff for cafeteria food improvements or annual Christmas party venue ideas, by all means, go for it.  However, if you are launching a product or campaign and would like to test it before the big launch, using a third party research company specializing in the field should be the preferred route to take. Responses require analysis and credible/effective analysis requires thought and strategic direction. Survey Monkey does neither for you.

A tool providing a broader respondent base at a given point in time would seem more beneficial. Don’t you think? Do I hear Market Research company?

The Million-Dollar Question
Is market research imperative to business /product/brand success?

The Answer
“Marketing without traditional research still creates a blind target”

If you don’t know whether your product or service is relevant to your target market, you are not only wasting your valuable marketing and sales bucks on product development, but also on your distribution and advertising campaign.  Miriam Hara from 3H Communications puts it very aptly, “Sometimes a $1K spend is more costly than a $10K spend – after you do the math.” Be farsighted. Think long-term customer loyalty via knowing customer demand. Translate that into sales. Translate that into dollars. Translate that into a happy boss. A happy boss equals promotion, which equals a bonus, which equals a happy you.

A lot of big marketers like to back up their ‘Market research is not important’ outcry by quoting what Henry Ford famously once said, “If I’d have asked my customers what they wanted, they would have told me ‘A faster horse’.” Steve Jobs was one of them. In an interview with Fortune Magazine’s senior editor, Betty Morris, he was quoted as saying famously, “we do no market research” when it comes to choosing strategy. And when it came to connecting with his consumers, he spoke about launching the innovative Apple iPhones after talking to everybody around him and finding out how much they hated their cell phones. iTunes Music Store? Same story. Observing people around him, he realized how much everyone loved their music and that they all wanted to carry their music around with them.  It “seemed like the writing on the wall” that electronic music transfer is the future. Ironically though, Apple is known to conduct surveys to get customer feedback on its products and service.

“Know your market. Know their market”

If you don’t talk to your target market, you won’t know how to beat competition. Knowing about the strategies and plans of your competitors is Marketing 101.

“Don’t assume. Ever.”

Don’t assume you know what the consumer likes or dislikes. Find out and adapt.

“Good enough is never good enough”

As much as your family and friends’ opinions are valuable in your personal life, they are not good enough when it comes to your business. They don’t want to hurt your feelings. Start off with secondary research if you really can’t spend much. But try to use both primary and secondary research. Oh, and just in case you missed the point above, let me reiterate … Please don’t use Survey Monkey.

To conclude, “Dare to be surprised: Use research”.

The cost of a market research project is typically less than the media cost associated with a product or an ad campaign launch. So an unsuccessful campaign translates into a waste of all those big media bucks.

So what do you think is the roadway to business success? To Market Research or Not to Market Research?

(Miriam Hara’s e-book quotes are available on www.3H.ca)