Don’t have the time to research your market?  Let’s see, you’ve taken the time to write a business case, create a marketing plan, do the forecasts, plan the rollout, and you want to use your company’s money to develop a product that will take months to complete, but you don’t have time to see if your market will bite?  This is not how one builds an enduring business.

Sound primary research creates convergence on a common ‘sense of the market’ among management and builds confidence in its implications and indicated actions.  It gives a company greater assurance that its decisions are the right ones, and creates a greater willingness to back them up with the appropriate level of resources.

Investment in primary research can result in a significant ROI, and the size of the return is proportional to how far off you might otherwise be in your product, service or marketing assumptions.  Proper identification of target customers, crisp messages that accurately address customers’ pain or gain with a compelling reason to buy, surrounding your products or services with the proper customer support, and having the right response to competitive offerings can have a huge impact to the bottom line if discovered early in the process.

Primary research should be a line item on every marketing budget right along with collateral, trade shows, public relations, Web development and the like.

So if you don’t ask questions of your market, you won’t know what it needs.  But here’s the rub: If you ask the wrong questions, or don’t word your questions correctly, you still won’t really know.

Just as you would never hand your accounting to someone just because he is a self-proclaimed wiz with Quicken for his home finances, so too should you not entrust the gathering of critical market knowledge to someone not professionally trained in the field.

Poorly constructed questions produce invalid, often misleading information—a condition rarely evident by simply looking at the data.  You run the risk of drawing the wrong conclusions, sending you off in thewrong direction in your product designs, promoted benefits, or a host of other dead ends.  Don’t risk your investment in a professionally developed product or service to market intelligence that is not created likewise.  Given there are dozens of books and articles written about market research, writing questions, constructing questionnaires, etc., this activity shouldn’t be left to someone simply because they have a Zoomerang or SurveyMonkey account.

The key thing to remember is that, eventually, you will get direct input from your market.  It is simply your choice as to when it happens.

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