Jan. 31, 2008
I have to admit, it is so refreshing when a client is willing to commit time and resources to a quantitative research study prior to launching a marketing initiative for their company – whether it’s an image campaign or the launch of a new product. You may think that such research – either through phone surveys, direct mail or many other avenues – is standard procedure. Sadly, often that is often not the case.
All too frequently marketers will bypass the quantitative research component believing they already know what their target audience is looking for. Perhaps they’ve been in the business 20 years or more. They should know what their target audience wants, right? But consider just this one example. You are a 55-year-old director of admissions. Your marketing team or agency ranges in age from 30 to 50. And the targets of your advertising campaign are 17-18 years old.
I may think I know a lot of things but remembering what it was like to be 17 and on the verge of one of the biggest decisions of my young life is not one of them – especially in this tech-savvy day and age. Those high-school years are a bit of a blur for this 40-year-old.
Granted, sometimes using the combined knowledge and experience of the client and the agency – or accessing relevant secondary research online – is the only option in cases where lack of time or financial resources precludes a concerted research effort. And, yes, in certain instances, existing information may be enough to formulate an effective marketing plan.
However, as noted in the example above, there are many times when the audience is so far removed from the people making the critical marketing decisions, that getting direct target audience insight through well-designed research is the only way to assure a campaign has a reasonable chance for success.
While some research campaigns are certainly not inexpensive, it is a smart investment when you consider that, if done properly, they can provide the client and the agency with a better roadmap to their marketing success. Unquestionably, good research will alleviate the all-to-common redirection of one’s marketing focus and empower all involved – knowing that the way has been paved directly through their target audience.
So next time your agency recommends spending $10,000 or even $20,000 on target audience research for your next big product or promotion – don’t just look at it as a line item in your budget. Look at it as a way of accomplishing a better return on your business investment for years to come.
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