When was the last time you did any marketing research?


This is the most under-estimated part of any marketing plan. We used to underquote this just to make sure people would still want our services.


So eager were our customers to just “Get started”.


However, the allegory is a simple one here – by the way, this applies to Social Media too.


Imagine you are in a padded room – AND I HOPE YOU HAVE TO REALLY IMAGINE THAT!


I put a pillow on the floor and I ask you to shoot it with a gun.


But I turn the light off first and it’s pitch black.


Even if you had unlimited ammunition, the whole exercise would be nothing but an exhausting and frustrating process.


The pillow does not even make a sound when you hit it.


Good market research is about turning the light on and using a bigger gun. For all those that are anti-gun, I do apologise. I am a CPA and not prone to wild bouts of fertile imagination.


Notice, that I say “good” market research.


Just doing a survey does not cut it. Besides, a marketing graduate spends 3 years in school before he can actually do a relatively poor one.


A survey is a multi-staged/complicated process in itself.


However, just because the numbers are good does not mean you have uncovered the truth.


One example to illustrate:

Say, I want to do a survey to see how La Trobe University staff feel about Unions. By the way, La Trobe is unionized. And I get a 20 percent response rate – which is more than decent.

Say, 95% of the respondents advise that they feel strongly about unions. I could be wrong in generalizing that 95% of my queries are of this opinion.

It could simply be that 19% of our staff are union members. And all of them responded.

That is actually what likely happened.

Only the people affected, responded.



That is why I support a 3-4 pronged approach.


Interviews must be one of the prongs. I am fond of the laddering technique which I have used the first time in 1999. It is really good at uncovering what values drive consumers to buy something or engage in a type of behavior.


Thirdly, if you have a facebook presence, you can use projective techniques e.g. “I buy expensive jewellery when __________________.” We have all seen this and mistaken it for personality trait/ games etc.


Actually, there is usually a keen marketer or software analyzing your responses and ‘machiavellically’ finding ways to draw a marketing strategy here.


Fourthly, I also like to look at what others have researched on the topic. For those that do not have access to research facilities like I do, you could even google it – the scholar one has a few free resources.


A combination of all four gives you the answer.


After all, can you imagine spending the next  5 years pounding after the wrong customers – all that time and money just wasted?!


And for what?



So, please save yourselves some heart-ache for breakfast and do market research the right way!


Your uber-humble servant,


(picture from www.srpp.com.au)

One thought on “When was the last time you did any marketing research?”

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