Market analysis

How Market Research Improves Brands

One thing is sure in business — no company operates alone in the market. That’s the case with your company too. By the same token, your business has to interact with consumers if you want to achieve success in the market. That’s where market research steps in. If your brand already communicates with consumers, you probably heard about the importance of researching your target market. Stellar market research can improve your brand, and that’s what the biggest companies in the world realized long before they launched their products.

The market research process is an essential step that ensures whether your product or service meeting the needs of your target market. The result of your market research can have an impact on your entire brand image as a whole. That’s why every major company in the world uses market research to define the customer. Apple & Coca-Cola use the data that market search provides to ensure that their branding strategy is on point.

You have spent a great deal of time and effort on creating your brand. Part of the creation process is identifying your target audience and building customer loyalty. But how much market research did you perform during the process? Have you continued to research and communicate with your target audience?

What is market research?

Market research is comprised of tools and methods that allow you to understand the pulse of your customers. It tells you what they are looking for, what they are interested in, what motivates them, and how they perceive your brand.

Here are two research tools that any business owner can perform to understand better their customers, their opinions about the business, and insight into your competitors.

Focus Groups

In today’s business environment, focus groups can easily be performed in a virtual environment for market research. It is best to have a moderator not employed or affiliated with the business to ask the participants questions. Focus groups encourage free and open discussion, allowing you to get a deeper understanding of why they feel the way they do. Gather a handful of your loyal customers and be prepared with questions. Record the virtual focus group responses to understand the nuances best and hear and see their reactions to your questions. Here is a sampling of basic focus group questions:

  • What is your favorite thing about our business?
  • What is something our business needs to improve upon?
  • Do you frequent our competitors? Why?
  • What do you like better about the competitor?
  • What key differences do you notice between our business and our competitors?
  • Do you have suggestions for how we can improve?

Be sure to thank your customers for attending the focus group. It does take more time, especially if the group met in person. If the meeting is in person, you should provide beverages and snacks. In our virtual world, follow up with a gift card or a discount on your goods or services.

Surveys

Surveys provide valuable insight when properly utilized for market research. Hire a professional to help write the questions so as not to lead the respondent in any way. There is an art to writing survey questions and the order in which they appear. Surveys are similar to focus groups but are performed at the customer’s convenience. Because surveys are done privately as opposed to a focus group, the customer is not influenced by the others in the room, nor are they intimidated by making an honest assessment, positive or negative.

A good survey should take no more than five minutes to complete. We are often asked about offering an incentive to complete the survey:

  • Incentives may drive an increase in responses
  • The customer may feel influenced to be kinder because you offered a reward.
  • The responses may not accurately reflect their opinion if they run through quickly to get it done and get the reward.

Focus groups are more qualitative and deliver greater quality, or depth, of information. The moderator can delve deeper into their answers and the why of their opinions.

Surveys are more quantitative because of the possibility of a significant number of responses. It allows you to speak with more customers but not in an in-depth way.

Ok, you have the data, now what do you do with it?

Best case scenario? There are no surprises. Your response to the information obtained will be to make suggested improvements, but you are doing pretty well for the most part. You have customers who are loyal and actively engaged; their perception of the brand matches yours.

When your market research shows surprises or makes you aware of something you were not, you need to evaluate what you are doing. Are there things out of your control? If so, that does not always matter because it is still the perception of your customers. Maximize the positives and address the negatives when possible. Most importantly, let your customers know what you are doing. Tell them why you did the focus group or survey. Share the things you are going to do to be better. We heard you, and here is what we are doing to improve. People appreciate the fact that you listened and took action. It enhances the customer experience and drives greater customer loyalty. You listened to them. You care about them.

What is the hardest part of the market research process? Listen and never argue. Their perception is what it is, and it is their truth. Tell them you will make it better…. then do it!

Do you want to know what your customers think?

Most business owners are unsure about tackling this on their own. They want to know what their customers think but need help.

In some cases, the owners have performed a survey or obtained research from various resources and are unsure how to interpret the data. We can figure this out for you and suggest improvements to your

Embrace it! Your brand may change and improve for you and your customers. The change came directly from your customers. It doesn’t get better than that! So, give us 30 minutes of your time, and let’s see what your customers are saying.

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Marketing Is Expensive. Is It Really Worth It?

Why marketing is so expensive, and what plan is right for your business.

marketing concept with financial graph and chart

Sooner or later, most entrepreneurs have to face the reality that marketing is expensive. In the course of planning a new marketing campaign or trying to grow the business organically, you discover that to execute a strategy could cost thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars, and to keep it going will cut into your bottom line.

Why is marketing so expensive? And is it really worth the cost?

What you’re paying for

Let’s start by explaining why marketing is so expensive. Generally, marketing costs account for things like:

  • Salaries and human labor. According to Glassdoor, the average marketing manager’s salary is $65,834 per year. Most marketing strategies require extensive planning and execution, requiring many people coordinating together. Many of these people are highly skilled and highly paid.
  • Limited resources. Some marketing campaigns depend on the use of finite resources, and at least some of these resources will be in high demand. For example, there are only so many billboards on the side of the highway; if a bidding war starts, it could drive up the price of advertising considerably.
  • Risk, failure, troubleshooting, and support. Some marketers build in the cost of risk and failure; if their original efforts fail, they’ll need to double down and try again. We also need to consider costs for ongoing troubleshooting and support in addition to core marketing campaign costs.

Differences in price

It should also be obvious that different types of strategies will differ in price. Depending on your approach, marketing could end up being very cheap or ridiculously expensive, often based on variables that include:

  • Strategy choice. Some strategies are more expensive than others. TV ads are often expensive because of finite supply and high demand. By contrast, search engine optimization (SEO) is often less expensive because there are unlimited opportunities for development; that said, even SEO can be pricey under the right conditions.
  • Scale. Most marketing campaigns vary in scale; a small mom-and-pop business and a large corporation aren’t going to use the same tactics or the same number of resources. The larger your campaign is and the more people you’re trying to influence, the more you’re going to pay.
  • Freelance, in-house, or agency. To execute a marketing campaign, you can do the work yourself, hire a freelancer, hire someone in-house, or work with a professional agency. Each of these options has different costs, as well as different strengths and weaknesses. For example, working with a freelancer can help you save money, but it might be hard to find individuals who fit your needs, and they might not be reliable. An agency is more expensive, but it’s often worth the money because of its reliability.
  • Quality and experience. In marketing, you get what you pay for (at least most of the time). Individuals and agencies who have more experience and skill tend to charge more because of their abilities. Accordingly, in many cases, an expensive campaign is a good sign; it means you’re getting the quality work you need. Of course, there are exceptions, and it’s possible for high costs to be excessive.

The nature of ROI

One of the most important factors you’ll need to consider when budgeting for and planning your marketing campaign is your return on investment (ROI). In other words, how much value are you getting out of your campaign compared to what you’re putting into it?

In many cases, you won’t be able to concretely measure your ROI until you actually launch the campaign. However, you might be able to come up with a reasonable estimate that’s based on your past experience and the knowledge and experience of the professionals you’re working with.

Your ROI matters more than the absolute dollar amount you’re spending. For example, let’s say in campaign A, you spend $500 and generate $1,000 in revenue. But in campaign B, you spend $1,500 and generate $5,000 in revenue. Campaign B is objectively more expensive, but it also yields a much higher ROI, both proportionally and in total amount.

Because of this, you should never rule out the possibility of a campaign just because it’s expensive.

Operating with no marketing

We also need to consider the prospect of running a business without a marketing campaign. There are examples of businesses that have gotten successful without traditional marketing or advertising (including famous examples like Arizona Iced Tea). However, without marketing, you’ll be exclusively growing your business through word of mouth and reputation, which can take a long time and can be extremely unreliable. For most businesses, marketing and advertising are practically necessary for steady growth.

Is it worth it?

Is an expensive marketing campaign worth the seemingly excessive costs? The issue is far too complicated to reduce to a simple answer. However, in many cases, there are plenty of justifications for the high cost of marketing, and if you execute a reasonable campaign, you should be able to get a high ROI and more than make all your money back. Although some types of businesses can get away with little to no marketing, most companies will strongly benefit from a marketing investment — even if it looks costly on paper.

Credits: Entrepreneur

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