For many companies, marketing research is the last thing on the "to do" list.

A brand manager once said to me, "I have a lot of pressure to get something on the shelves. Who has time for research?" As he walked away, I was thinking that his new shampoo was no different from dozens of competitors. A little research would probably convince him that his product is a waste of his time and company money.

Why are companies constantly changing their advertising message? Why do 95% of all new product introductions fail? Why is so much money wasted on poorly conceived marketing programs when research could illuminate the way?

What prevents so many marketing people from using research effectively is one of three things:

  1. A case of misplaced ego
  2. Just plain lousy planning
  3. The perception that research isn't affordable

Ego is the hardest to change, particularly for emerging companies. Often, such companies have strong, dynamic leaders who feel they are bulletproof because of their early success. Stronger leaders tend to hold strong opinions of what will or won't work and are not accustomed to looking outward for answers. They prefer to think they know best.

In this situation, ask yourself (or your CEO) the following:

  • If you're wrong, can you afford to lose money on ill-conceived programs?

  • If you're wrong, are you sure you won't jeopardize other company initiatives?

  • Have you asked for input from your customers or prospects that have no stake in whether you succeed or fail and who can be objective about your company or products?

  • Do you know everything customers need and want from you (and your business) to keep them loyal?

  • Do your customers and prospects know all the benefits of buying from your company?

  • Can you stand to know that your customers and prospects might be smarter than you in helping you business grow?

  • Do you know whether your customers give a greater percentage of their business to your competitors because they are addressing their needs and wants more effectively than you?

  • Do you know what else you can provide your customers with so that they'll pay more for your products... and be happier about it?

  • Do you know with certainty why your prospects buy from a competitor rather than from you?

  • Do you feel that shooting from the hip is the best approach for growing your business?

If the answer is YES to all the above questions, go buy yourself a yacht. Indeed you don't need marketing research. But if you answer NO to any, yet you aren't thinking about or doing marketing research, you have an ego problem.

There are two more common reasons that marketing research probably doesn't play a more prominent role in your company: time and money.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Robert Kaden

Bob Kaden is president of The Kaden Company and author of Guerrilla Marketing Research. He can be reached at thekadencompany@sbcglobal.net.