Market research is an essential process for every business but there are many misconceptions about what it actually is. It’s not just people with clipboards asking for vox pops or gathering statistics – it’s about asking questions, challenging your assumptions and opening up communication channels between your business and your market.
The market is in a constant state of change so knowing what makes your customers tick is key to keeping you ahead of your competitors. Market research is the best way to do this and can provide some great collateral for your own PR and marketing strategy.
Research is used widely by 84% of communications professionals but, on average, less than half of these organisations understand how to shape a campaign whilst utilising this research. We’ve put together our five top tips to help you conduct insightful market research which will become an important building block to your PR strategy and enhance your understanding of your business.
Decide whether your main priority is to help with sales and marketing, or with PR. The two don’t have to be mutually exclusive but consider your audience when you’re drafting each question. If you want press coverage from your research, be prepared to throw in a few curve balls that will make for interesting reading. A journalist isn’t going to pick up how much the average business is willing to spend on a specific service (though this is critical information for the business selling the service). But they may be interested that 70% of the market, think current services available are out of sync with demand, what that demand is, and the challenges it is currently posing.
One of our clients actually used their research to identify demand for a new service. Their research assessed the feasibility of a new service which allowed them to launch the product.
We’ve all been on the end of bad surveys with poorly worded questions, so don’t make it difficult to answer. Questionnaire design is critical to the final outcome. Have a good mixture of open and closed questions depending on your objectives. For PR purposes, closed questions are good as you can get some hard hitting stats and headlines. On the other hand, a market research survey should have some open ending questions as it’s more valuable for you to know what your customers are thinking, but it might not be relevant for everyone else.
Now you’ve written your questions and decided on your objectives, it’s time to decide on who you want to target. This is absolutely crucial and it’s much better to spend your budget on increasing the number of respondents as opposed to the number of questions. A strong answer to one question is better than five inconclusive answers! Make sure your pool of respondents is representative of your business audience. For example, if you are a retail technology company, you want to ask questions to consumers so that you can prove how your technology will help your client’s (i.e retailers) customers.
If budget is available and you are looking for insightful answers that will provide real business value, you might want to consider using a market research agency like our partner, Sapio Research. They can work with you on strategising your objectives, writing your questions and also accessing the respondents in your target audience. If you decide to work with an agency, be clear on your brief and what you want to uncover. Whether your aim is to generate headlines or find out what makes your customers tick, an agency will be able to guide you in the right direction.
Now you’ve got your results, it’s time to share it with the world. To start with, highlight the stats that really stand out to you and are in line with the objectives and headlines you set out to find at the beginning. There is a plethora of ways you can share and promote your research through your PR and marketing strategy. In fact, for one of our clients, it became a focus for six months of their campaign. We created two press releases, three soundbites and a report which was instrumental in generating several pieces of coverage. The stats you gain from the research can be drip fed into your content for months to come adding more gravitas to every piece of content you generate. As for your marketing campaign, you can generate reports, infographics or even host an event for journalists (check out this post for our event tips!)
Exploratory research will challenge client assumptions about the market, deliver deep customer insight, identify new trends in the market, shine a light on evolving pain points, highlight threats and identify new opportunities. Research is not just there for content creation, it can have a real business impact, so make sure it’s done right!
Could we help you carry out a research project? Whether you’re an existing client or not, we’d love to help! Give us a call: 01296 733 867.