Marketing research is a process used by businesses to collect, analyze, and interpret information used to make sound business decisions and successfully manage the business. In other words, it links the consumer to the marketer by providing information that can be used in making marketing decisions (i.e. B2C or B2B). This can not be implemented without the use of a MIS (Marketing Research System) to gather, sort, analyze, evaluate, and distribute needed, timely, and accurate information to marketing decision makers.
Here are the steps to implementing a marketing research process.
1. Ask yourself if there is a real need for marketing research. It’s not only the first step to take but a very critical one as well! Research takes a lot of time due to the overload of secondary information available on the Internet. It’s ideal to think that it takes months or even a year to completely finalize a marketing research agenda. The other factor you will need to consider is the cost of doing it, especially if you hire an agency to do it for you. What you want to compare is the value of the information vs the cost of the information. If the value of the information is worth the cost and time of doing it, then by all means, go for it buddy!
If you’re still unsure, here’s a few quick guides to go by to determine that marketing research is not needed:
a) The information is already available
b) The timing is wrong to conduct marketing research
c) Funds are not available for marketing research
d) Costs outweigh the value of marketing research
2. Define the problem. This is the most important step (assuming you’ve decided to do marketing research). If the problem is incorrectly defined, all else will become wasted effort! Keep in mind that the need to make a decision requires decision alternatives. If there are no alternatives, no decision is necessary. For example, let’s say your sales are down by 30%, therefore becoming a problem with your revenues. Your alternatives may be to see how well ads #2 does compared to ads #1 in terms of sales. Use secondary data sources to develop ideas further into the research.
Here’s a powerful technique to use in order to pinpoint important problems and receive information all in one: create a focus group! Here’s why:
a) it generates fresh ideas
b) allow clients to observe their participants
c) understand a wide variety of issues
d) allow easy access to special respondent groups
3. Establish objectives. Research objectives, when stated effectively, can provide the information needed to solve the problem you have from step 2. All of your objectives should be what you want to study in your market research and specific as possible.
Here’s a quick checklist of what to include in each and every objective:
a) specify from whom information is to be gathered
b) specify what information is needed
c) specify the unit of measurement used to gather information
d) use the respondents’ reference to re-word the question
4. Determine research design. There are 5 different designs you can choose from to get the information you need, such as descriptive, exploratory, causal, and diagnostic research. Descriptive research describe market variables. Exploratory research allows you to get information in an unstructured way. Causal studies is to try to reveal what factor(s) cause some event to happen. Diagnostic research focuses on the sources of satisfaction and dissatisfaction.
5. Choose method of assessing data. Secondary data is more easy to access than primary data, such as online surveys. However, if you are into the traditional way of doing data collection (i.e. telephone, mail, F-2-F), they all still have a place in marketing research. The questionnaire that you present to the respondents must be worded clearly and unbias.
Here’s a few pointers you want to remember when creating the forms for your questionnaire:
a) use nominal, ordinal, interval-Likert, interval-S-D, interval-Stapel, and ratio measurements
b) questions pertaining to each research objective (step 3)
c) questions pertaining to attribute, attitude, or behavior
d) have 1 open-ended question (I would definitely keep this at a minimum, if I were you)
6. Determine sample plan and size. Your sample plan should describe how each sample element is to be drawn from the total population. The sample size tells how many elements of the population should be included in the sample. In other words, the purpose of the sample plan is to give you representativeness, while the sample size gives you accuracy!
Here’s a small but important task to take to prevent or minimize nonsampling errors from occurring: validate your participants by re-contacting!
7. Analyze and report the data. It’s always good to go back and run tests on the information you have to screen out errors that may occur. Once you have all that you need for the research (pie charts, bar graphs, statistics, survey, etc), you want to be sure to create a report of it. Carefully present the research report in a way that communicates the results clearly, yet accurately to the client.