Answering this question requires an understanding of the difference between Market Intelligence and Marketing Research; and breaking down the FUD (Fear Uncertainty Doubt) about these subjects; explaining why and when your business needs both. What follows addresses those fears, uncertainties and doubts that sees some business owners unnecessarily shy away from the benefits that good intelligence and research could bring to their business.
Market Intelligence is an activity that all businesses, whatever their size, should engage in to answer the questions of ”who”, “what”, “how much”, “where”, and “when” your customer buys your products and services.
At a fundamental level gathering Market Intelligence is as simple as talking to your customers and suppliers; storing and using that information, to identify trends, inform business development decisions and marketing campaigns; and prepare your business for whatever the future brings.
There are many customer relationship management (CRM) packages, the best ones linked to accounting software systems, that provide easy storage of customer and supplier information to answer the questions of who, what, how much, where and when your customer buys.
Market Intelligence is also the process of regularly gathering information about the status of market in which you trade, including competitors, regulatory issues, and economic conditions. What market intelligence cannot tell you is what your customers are really thinking or “why” your customer buys from you.
This is where you need Marketing Research to answer specific questions, like:
- Is there a market for my new product idea?
- What will the market pay?
- What is the scope of the demand and can I make a profit?
- Identify specific market segments to target?
- What did they think about my last promotion?
- How satisfied are my customers?
- How satisfied are my channel partners?
- Evaluate the effectiveness of distribution, website, advertising etc?
Specifically, there are two myths that need to be debunked about Marketing Research:
- It’s expensive and
- It takes a long time.
Expense and time are often a reflection of the methodology and scope that’s employed to answer very specific marketing research questions. The most costly and lengthy methods being face to face interviews; with many individuals collating and loading often hand written notes into a database.
Internet technology today has significantly reduced these costs and shortened timeframes by using online surveys. Survey respondents automatically load their answers, thereby reducing transcription time and human error.
Any business can use internet survey companies that will send your survey out for free (100 people). A major criticism of internet surveys is that that they don’t represent an accurate sample of the population.
Meaning: who you ask your marketing research question to, is as important as what you ask. This is where a skilled marketing research person really adds value that is worth paying for.
There are two tests for accuracy and soundness of the marketing research results:
- Validity – did the research give you the answers to the questions that you needed to know?
- Reliability – if you conducted the research again, would you get the same results?
Using online surveys certainly does keep the costs down; but a skilled marketing research person ensures “validity” and “reliability” by accurately defining the problem to be solved; the correct questions to ask; and whether there are other cost-effective ways to get the result.
Once information has been gather from the correct primary sample; a skilled marketing research person adds value by being able to spot differences, draw conclusions and make recommendations that you are able to implement.
Implementing strategies and processes based on skilled market research gives significant business value which lasts long after the survey cost is forgotten.
About the author: Teresa Bassham is a Director of Zenworkz and helps businesses effectively source the right information that improves their decision making and bottom line.
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