Mythbusting: 5 common myths of market research
Market research has slowly become a term that often causes people to shudder. Some do it as an unwelcome chore. Others do it to tick a box. But research doesn’t have to be approached in this manner. Market research can be extremely useful, insightful and beneficial to your organisation if approached correctly. But first, we need to dispel the most common myths that surround market research.
Myth #1 - Market research isn’t necessary
Understanding your customers is one of the most important ways to sustain and grow your business. You may be content with how your department is operating and confident in it’s success, but you should never assume you know what your customers or prospects are thinking. Markets are vibrant and dynamic with customer perceptions, sentiments, and ideas that are constantly evolving. If businesses don’t adapt along with changing customer interests and mindsets, they put themselves at risk of losing out. To operate successfully in today’s hyper-competitive economy, businesses need to ensure their products, points-of-view, and guiding principles are heavily influenced by customer insight. Market research is a must.
Myth #2 - I can do my own market research
There’s a place and time for marketing professionals to do their own research. In fact, marketers must continuously strive to get closer to their customers and prospects, build trust, and move away from a lead-centric mentality. Asking customers for feedback is crucial to the survival of any business.
However, research done well takes careful planning time, expertise, and an ability to marry a variety of data sets or sources of information. It’s important to lean on an internal research team or outside research partner, who can clearly articulate the business questions you’re trying to answer and keep the initiative moving forward, especially when competing priorities emerge. It’s important to also be open to the possibility that assumptions made are validated or in some cases, proven inaccurate.
Myth #3 – Market research is nothing more than a survey
While it’s true that some research organisations focus on survey instruments as their primary technique, the explosion of social and purchase data available to internal teams and to some research organisations has greatly expanded the types of research available to B2B organisations. Surveys continue to be a valuable research tool, but these new data sets provide a window into actual social behavior and the adoption of technologies, services, or other offerings among B2B buyers. A good research partner can help organisations make sense of these data pools which prove particularly valuable as marketers look to not only inform campaigns but also measure the effectiveness of their efforts.
Myth #4 – Research projects take six months
Research timelines are highly dependent on a number of considerations including a few key questions:
Have objectives and key questions been clearly defined?
What are the primary techniques the research organization is using to collect data?
Who is the ideal respondent and how difficult are those individuals to reach? How many respondents are needed?
What is the required deliverable that translates raw data into consumable information and practical next steps for the organization?
Most research projects should not require a six month engagement. In fact, some would argue that long gone are the days of the lengthy survey timeline. Thanks to new technologies and new data sources, researchers and marketers alike have more options than ever to gather different types of insights that come in all shapes and sizes, fit all budgets, and can take anywhere from three days to three months.
Research partners should be able to provide an expected timeline based on the objectives of the study, techniques used, respondent pool being targeted, and follow-on analysis of the data. On average, most research projects take 4-6 weeks.
Myth #5 – Findings in PowerPoint format and a two hour debrief are required
No one likes the thought of drowning in excel spreadsheets. Sheets and sheets of words and numbers that make no coherent sense, or chart after chart with no significant meaning is no one’s idea of fun. So what should you expect from your research partner and how do you ensure you’re delivering value to your organization in a way that’s easy to consume?
Recently, marketers have taken learnings from social behavior and applied those to the way colleagues prefer to consume information. While you can keep the whole library of information in your back pocket, when sharing results with colleagues focus on sharing ONLY the most important pieces of insight. Think bitesize chunks of information, infographics and interactive charts that are specifically designed to engage the reader and get to the heart of the questions the team is trying to answer. This gives colleagues a way to consume important findings in a format that’s easier to read, more enjoyable and frankly, not another boring PowerPoint file. So think small, approachable, and easy to digest. It’ll help ensure all the work that’s gone into the research is read.
Market research holds immense value for organisations across all sectors. However, it’s important to understand some of the common perceptions associated with the research industry and what marketers can do to ensure success. Happy researching!