Why Market Research Matters
Google published an article recently redefining market research. Or, redefining marketers’ understanding of the sales funnel.
Six months of search data analytics revealed a critical insight — the customer journey isn’t linear.
As Google’s President of the Americas, Allan Thygesen put it, “Digital technology and mobile devices have put people in control. We all now expect an immediate answer in the moments we want to know, go, do and buy. And all of these intent-rich moments are creating journey shapes as unique as each of us.”
Their conclusion was our starting point — market growth comes from knowing your customer really, really well.
The Real Point of Market Research: Understanding Your Customer
We’ve all heard the adage that you can make numbers say anything you want.
While it’s true that data is often arranged to prove any number of points, that’s not the point of research.
When done well, research reveals actionable insights about customers and employees that your business can leverage to create meaningful connections with your ideal audiences. That is why we do research at OBI Creative. For our clients, the real fun comes in translating that data into strategy.
Research for Results
Gaining knowledge is useful, but its real value comes in applying that knowledge to marketing strategy.
“When we design research studies, we have very specific purposes in mind,” says Ann Pedersen, OBI Creative Director of Marketing and Communication Strategy. “We’re trying to uncover attitudes that customers, prospects and employees have about a brand or business. We’re looking for insights that can inform more profitable marketing strategies so that we can create tactics that drive bottom line business results.”
Our Voice of the Customer (o.VOC™) and Voice of the Employee (o.VOE™) surveys work because from the beginning, they study the experience that a brand’s customers and employees have with that brand from their perspective.
Good Research Starts with Quality Data
We use the following research tactics and more to reveal the extent to which a brand understands its customers and employees and has its operations aligned to satisfy those desires.
- Qualitative and quantitative research
- Audience segmentation
- Database modeling and metrics
- Client and customer insights
- Mystery and secret shopping
- Journey mapping
- User interface/user experience research
- Employee surveys
- Key stakeholder interviews
Once we have the data, we crunch the numbers and parse interview transcripts to uncover the good and bad about how a brand interacts with its customers and prospects. We look for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. We ask what a business is doing right and where it could be doing better.
We put culture, operations, marketing and sales under the lens and examine them to gain a holistic picture of the brand and its customers. Then, we present that picture to the brand or business owner, to help them understand what the data says about who they are to their employees and customers.
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Numbers
Speaking of presenting data, we’ve found it to be more of an art than a science.
As our Director of Research, Lori Skupa, recounts: “You think it would be easy to put together something people can understand, but the type of chart you create makes all the difference, especially when complex data sets are involved.”
Storytelling with Data is sitting next to Lori’s computer, and she browses it often for ideas on how to display data in a way that connects powerfully with clients. Lessons include everything from the obvious (like not relying on color to demonstrate differences, since it means nothing to colorblind people) to the timeless truth that less is more when it comes to charts. “You can only process so much information at once,” Lori says. “Those ‘aha’ moments won’t take place without comprehension of the data, so I’m always refining presentations to maximize relatability.”
The Final Step — Letting Research Inform Strategy
This is perhaps one of the critical missteps many businesses make. They invest in research but don’t use it. We don’t let our clients make that mistake. After the data has been presented, we craft marketing and communication strategies from the insights revealed during research.
A big part of this process, especially for B2B companies, is developing brand architecture and messaging that reflects who they are and not just what they do.
“We often find that businesses want elevator pitches for their employees and one of the common misconceptions we try to correct is the idea that an elevator pitch should tell the listener what your business does,” says Pedersen. “Your business is not ultimately about what you do but who you are. That messaging is what will help you form meaningful connections with prospects and customers.”
Using the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis conducted during the research phase, we create messaging that businesses can use to connect with their ideal audiences. In the execution phase of our marketing efforts, we then transform that messaging into creative campaigns and integrated go-to-market plans that hit the mark for our clients.
Ultimately, we have confidence in our marketing strategies because we know they are grounded in research. We don’t have to hope that our creative will connect with customers; we know it will because the strategies and resultant tactics we craft for our clients tie directly back to who they are, who their customers are, and what they want.
Unsure how to leverage your customer research?
Get our free, 3-step guide on how to turn your research into a strategy for your business. (Or, you can always contact us for help.)