If you don’t have answers to these questions, that’s a good sign that it is time to conduct market research to inform your company’s new business and marketing strategy. As we like to say at TEAM LEWIS, strategy without research is just an opinion. With a global recession looming, it’s more important than ever for businesses to have a research-driven sales and marketing strategy to ensure business success.
Understanding the Market and Competitive Landscape
The first step is to do secondary market research to get a solid understanding of market trends and the competitive landscape. You will want to consult a variety of secondary sources including industry reports, marketing intelligence, trend forecasts, news and press coverage, competitor marketing materials, and social media in your market analysis to create a wide lens of the competitive environment. The goal here is to create a well-informed understanding based on secondary research of your company, your competitors, and the future of your industry. This type of market analysis and competitive analysis can also help you find previously overlooked target markets and ways your company can leverage its competitive advantage to reach your target customers.
You can also use secondary market research to estimate your company’s market share as well as understand the market potential, or size of the total market. By understanding which areas of the market your company succeeds in as well as which areas are growing rapidly, your company can better target your sales and marketing efforts toward those market segments.
At TEAM LEWIS, our marketing tonality offering leverages secondary research to help companies understand opportunities and challenges in their market, evaluates how their brand stacks up compared to competitors, and identifies white spaces to differentiate their brand from competitors. Insights that come from secondary market research include trending topics the brand should be aware of, geographical areas for growth, and opportunities to stand out from competitor messaging.
Gathering Information from Target Customers Through Primary Research
Now that you have done a market analysis and have a comprehensive understanding of the challenges and opportunities in your industry, the next step is to get information directly from your target market through primary research. A market research survey of individuals meeting the profile of your target potential customer is a great way to gather data from a broad set of individuals. Online surveys help us answer questions such as “how many?” or how much?” and are a common way of collecting information from many people at once.
We often recommend following up quantitative research, like a survey, with qualitative research, such as a focus group or in-depth interviews. While quantitative research is helpful for gathering information from a lot of people, qualitative research is beneficial for obtaining deeper information. Qualitative research helps us answer questions like “why?” or “how?” and allows brands to speak directly with members of the key target audience. Focus groups are also an excellent way to speak with difficult-to-reach audiences, such as members of C-suites, at a reasonable price point. Using both research methods in combination will yield greater actionable insights than using one alone.
Using these primary market research methodologies, you can explore prospective customers’ path-to-purchase journey, understanding what touchpoints along the process are the most critical. You can also gather customers’ perceptions of their experience with a particular brand and its competitors to find strengths and areas for improvement, like our team recently did for Fluidra.
Surveys and focus groups are also excellent research methods to use to gather customer feedback, understand customer needs, learn about their customer experience, and identify ways to improve your customer service. All that information can give your company the insight you need to help you better serve your existing customers and future customers.
You can also use online surveys and focus groups to conduct message or ad testing. Message/ad testing helps organizations uncover what their customers or potential customers are thinking about their corporate communications, messaging, and/or advertisements. Using message/ad testing can help you figure out what messages or ads will resonate best with a prospective customer. This information can be very helpful to your marketing team in understanding how to target potential customers most effectively.
Similarly, you can conduct product or service concept testing using primary research methodologies. This type of research helps organizations discover what their customers or potential customers think about potential new products or services. You can learn what features or attributes are most important to a target customer, what they care most about, and what their pain points have been in the past. We recommend conducting this type of research to gather critical information before entering the product development phase or promoting a service to potential customers. Gathering this information at the front end will help your company refine your product and service options based on prospective customers’ preferences and priorities.
Exploring Audience Insights Tools
At TEAM LEWIS, we have access to a suite of audience insights tools that combine psychographic, demographic, and social media data. These tools give us great insights into what types of people are interested in a particular brand. We can also use these tools to learn more about a particular type of person or group that a brand might want to target in its sales and marketing efforts. For example, if a clothing brand is interested in targeting Gen Zers, we could use our tools to investigate what influencers Gen Zers are commonly engaging with, what websites they often visit, what podcasts they tend to listen to, and more. The clothing brand could use this information to focus its marketing efforts on that audience by honing in on the websites, podcasts, and influencers that are most of interest to Gen Zers.
Segmenting Your Target Market & Creating Personas
Using all the information you’ve gathered through the research methods listed above, you can begin the process of market segmentation. Market segmentation involves creating and investigating high-level classifications of groups of people, or groups of customers within your target market. Examples of market segments could be female Millennials, parents of 2+ children, or urban-dwelling pet owners. Market segmentation can be helpful to give new business and marketing teams a sense of what categories their existing customers fall into or what groups might be most interested in the company’s products or services. For more information on market segmentation, check out this article from Qualtrics or this podcast episode by Happy Market Research.
Personas, on the other hand, are examples of specific types of people to illustrate details that might speak to a particular person’s experience. For example, you might create an ideal buyer persona based on the known characteristics of your best existing customers. The buyer persona would dive into their experiences, motivations, and goals in addition to demographic or firmographic elements. Personas can be helpful to give sales and marketing teams an idea of the types of individuals they might be reaching or speaking to along the path-to-purchase journey.
Interested in learning more about how TEAM LEWIS can help you with market research to refine your new business and marketing strategy? Contact us today!