Market research is key to the development and fulfillment of an informed marketing strategy. Strategy is the high-level business planning function that sets goals, and takes action to achieve them.
For example, say you want to increase your sales by 50% within the next six months. How will this be achieved? It may involve increasing the capacity of your organization or diversifying your supply; but beyond that, it may involve refining your approach to your product, your customers, and your business communications. A well-designed business strategy is based on a solid understanding of the business environment. An understanding of the business environment is obtained by conducting thorough research.
Target market research
Know your customers. Know them well. Learn their preferences. Understand life from their perspective. Figure out what can make your product more essential to their lives.
Find out how they live, and what they spend their time doing. Of vital significance from a marketing perspective is, what media channels do they consume? What’s their favorite radio station, and most likely listening hours? What’s their favorite television station, and their most likely viewing hours? Do they read the local newspaper? Do they subscribe to industry-specific professional magazines? Do they spend time on Facebook and Twitter? (Hint: the likelihood increases as the target market’s age decreases). When you know how to reach your customers, and you understand what motivates them, you will be able to send them a targeted message that resonates with them personally.
Understanding your competitors is an important strategic advantage. If your competitors are presently larger or more profitable than your business is, you may be able to emulate aspects of their business model to your advantage. If you are bigger or more profitable than your competitors, you can take defensive action to keep it that way.
Often, the most compelling result of competitor research is a better understanding of how businesses in your industry communicate with your shared target market. Knowing the best way to present a message that resonates with your customers forms the basis of an effective marketing communications strategy.
If you’ve ever heard in the news about some politician or marketing campaign that made an awkward gaffe or “mis-statement” then you’ll understand the importance of fact checking. Testing your assumptions is important even for internal planning purposes; but verifying the correctness of your assertions is essential to maintaining trust with your audience. Fact checking is at the core of public relations, and should be a part of any well-thought-out marketing campaign, especially if the campaign involves a statement of fact.