With the announcement today that Maritz Research has acquired St. Louis based firm Evolve24, I find myself thinking back, oh so fondly, to the marketing research and analysis projects I have lead in the past. For those unfamiliar with the function of marketing research, or better yet confused by the different types, the first question I have is, “When was the last time you remember market research leading to new business?”
Executives should be utilizing pertinent market research in their decision-making process for what direction the company should move, for the strategy conversations and debates the rest of the company rely on. But in the marketing and sales organizations, how do you leverage the data? How do you interpret it?
Marketing research and analysis are powerful tools that can, and I stress “can”, provide important data. But much like the executives, the data should only be one tool in the arsenal of day-to-day work. Knowing what segments of the company’s target market are growing allow marketing departments to target their initiatives. The data should also help inform the account managers of new places to look for prospects.
This data can provide insight into numerous areas such as:
This data can be be used for expanding current accounts or ideas for targeting a marketing and sales campaign. For sales executives it can help shape compensation plans and account management.
But it has to be used properly by individuals who understand how to interpret what they are reading. Some are capable of accomplishing this, of incorporating the information into their plans; others are not. Considering the cost which can be attached to market research, it becomes the responsibility of sales and marketing management to have a plan. I’ve seen the results when there is a plan and marketing research helped me close my first $1M+ contract when I first moved into sales.
But without a plan, the $40,000+ investment can find it’s way to a dark corner of a desk to collect dust or be lost on a server somewhere, delivering nothing but an expense item to the books. The types and methods and science of market research is like any other tool…without proper use, the job doesn’t get done. But when used properly, it can be an effective surgical strike for growing and guiding the business.
And it only gets more effective when the sales and marketing teams are combining it with the first hand knowledge of the account managers with the activities of marketing.