4 Good Reasons to Conduct Regular Market Research
By Michael Isaacson for our 15 Ways to Build Your B2B Brand in 2015 blog series
Early in my career, I had a client who had this sign hanging in his office: “In God we trust… all others bring data.”
At first blush, the sign made me nervous. I thought, “Do I seem untrustworthy? Does he not have confidence in the company I work for? Do we seem devious?”
As I worked with him, I found out that it wasn’t a matter of trust. It was a matter of certainty. This particular client practiced what he called “Evidence-Based Decision Making.” Research gave him the tools to make informed business decisions about product improvements, pricing strategies, channels of distribution and marketing. He had decades of experience behind him and great intuition when it came to sales and marketing but, in the end, he let research and facts be the deciding factors in his decision making process.
20 years later, I’m an even bigger believer in the value of research. However, I now see the value well beyond the four P’s. It’s about staying competitive in markets that are shifting and changing on a daily basis. Here’s how you can stay on top of your game:
1. Learn more about your own customers. Sometimes, the best research can be a simple conversation with the people closest to us; our clients. Do you know what’s new at your client’s company? Do you know how and why it came about? Do you understand their biggest challenge? Do you know the one big thing that keeps them up at night? Do you know if they have any pending major announcements, expansions or closures?
2. Learn more about your competitors. Before you can understand your competitive edge, you need to understand your competition. What are their strengths and weaknesses? How do their products or services compare to those of your client? How are they marketing themselves? What are they doing better than you? How do you compare in terms of equity and awareness?
3. Learn more about the trends and opportunities that exist in your industry. Use research to connect with your target market. Give yourself the information you need to forecast realistic sales targets. Increase sales opportunities by detecting unserved or underserved markets, or identify new products and services for an entirely new demand. Get a better profile of your end-user to create more effective marketing campaigns.
4. Reduce your business risk, otherwise known as CYA (Cover Your A..). Use information, not just intuition, when making business decisions. Regular research can help you recognize and plan for industry and economic shifts. If you’re looking to expand, it can help you determine if the market is ready for your new product or service. If you’re looking to consolidate, it can help you analyze and prioritize your options.
In a nutshell, conducting good quality market research on a regular basis will help you better understand your industry and your target market… not to help you fit in… but to help you stand out!