Marketing without a road map can result in misguided and wasted efforts. The same can happen if proper market research is not conducted or misconducted. In this month’s eTip, we interviewed Paul Kirch, VP of Business Development for Common Knowledge Research Services in Dallas, Texas about the importance of market research and how you can stay on the road to reach your customers.
BMC: How long have you been in the market research industry and how did you get started?
Kirch: I started in marketing research back in 1990. My first job was working for The Gallup Organization as a telephone interviewer. I spent 10 years with Gallup filling various operations roles in departments such as programming and project management and technical consulting. Since 2000, I’ve been working in a sales role, with my current position as Vice President, Business Development for a global research supplier where I manage a team of outside and inside sales reps.
BMC: What are the different types of market research and how do they impact marketing decisions?
Kirch: When looking at marketing research, generally, there are two different approaches, quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative looks at larger audiences and provides results that would be reflective of a larger population. Qualitative, on the other hand, uses smaller audiences to gain in-depth views on products, concepts, advertisements, etc. Within both quantitative and qualitative, there are multiple methodologies used such as in-person interviewing, telephone, online or paper/pencil.
Many companies today understand the value of hearing what their customers (and non-customers) think and feel. By using marketing research, it’s possible to determine things such as how successful a product will be after release, what price people are willing to pay or what changes need to occur to make a product or concept appeal to a broader audience. Among many other uses of MR, tracking the impact of advertising campaigns can influence where advertising dollars are spent or moved based off of consumer feedback.
BMC: How can a company use market research to maximize ROI from marketing, PR, and advertising?
Kirch: Marketing research can not only help a company determine where to spend money for marketing, but can also help determine where, to whom and why to spend the money:
Where – is this a national campaign, regional, or some smaller geography? The results from MR can help determine where your campaign will be most successful. As they say, “fish where the fish are.” ROI can be significantly influenced by marketing where the consumers you can influence are working or living.
To Whom – Who is your real audience? Who is most likely to purchase your product or service? Maybe it’s an age group, gender, ethnicity, profession or some other demographic group that will be most responsive to your product/service, allowing you to target more effectively. By answering who your ideal consumer is, you can maximize ROI by reaching out to the appropriate groups.
Why – Why are people responding? Is the intention of the campaign going to match the reaction of the audience? Making sure you know why your campaign is effective allows you to maximize ROI by matching the message to the consumer.
Companies that can effectively use marketing research to compliment marketing can really impact ROI and do it with confidence.
BMC: What are the 3 most common mistakes you've seen companies make when it comes to conducting a market research?
Kirch: The number one mistake I have seen is not trusting the results. Trust the data. If results say the campaign won’t be effective, then you’re taking a lot of risk moving forward. When making decisions where to spend marketing dollars, the data is your friend.
As a caveat, the above is only true if the study is designed and executed properly. It is just as dangerous to trust the data of a poorly designed and executed study that gives you false results.
Another mistake comes from reaching out to the wrong audience. If you only ask your customers what they think about your product, is that giving you the entire picture? What about reaching out to former customers or consumers, or perhaps those that have never been? This can allow you to get a broader picture and help you determine how to convert some of those who are not using your product. Know your audience and how to reach them.
The third mistake is rushing to collect data. No matter the methodology, sampling can make or break the effectiveness of the data results. If the study is national, the sample should be managed in such a way that the results are nationally represented; balanced by Census criteria. Of course, you may have a different sampling frame, but ultimately the research supplier should be able to provide the data balanced according to your criteria. When selecting a supplier, I highly recommend asking about their sampling practices and making sure they really understand how to pull a representative sample based off of Census or some other criteria you’re targeting.
BMC: Last words of wisdom in regard to market research?
Kirch: I’m going to reiterate a statement from above since I believe it is one of the keys to successfully using marketing research: “Trust the data!” Research driven decisions tend to be more reliable and justifiable. Companies that understand the value of research tend to be able to make decisions that have a bigger impact than just using gut decisions.
Paul Kirch is the Vice President of Business Development for Common Knowledge Research Services in Dallas, Texas. As Vice President, Business Development for the firm’s online panel and programming operations, Paul Kirch leads the company’s sales team. His track record of sales success, industry knowledge and ability to build client relationships makes him an ideal fit for this role.