At its very core, effective marketing is the art of reaching your audience. It’s making your message, your product and your idea sing in just the right way to make people sit up and listen. The question is, how? How do you know what notes to hit? Where to sing your tune? What words will make your song stand out from the rest of the marketing noise?

The answer is simple. Get to know your audience.

The first step is market research. It is a foundational part of a successful campaign and overall marketing strategy. Unfortunately, too many companies only perform cursory “research” or skip this step entirely. As a result, they miss out on key insights into their potential customers’ behaviors that could boost sales.

You do marketing research. That’s the same thing as market research, right?

Despite being from the same root word, marketing research and market research are very different. Marketing research is broad in scope. It looks at your business marketing strategy and your company overall to find out what’s working and what’s not.

Market research, on the other hand, is targeted and specific. It seeks to understand not just all consumers, but your audience specifically. You can then use this data to determine everything from the tone of your communications to what products you should offer.

Everyone is my target. Why do I need to research?

Some marketers believe that you only need market research for a niche product that appeals to a select few. However, that’s a myth. Many corporate giants, such as LEGO and Apple, rely on market research for their success. With this tool, you can gather a wide array of information:

  • What demographics commonly buy your products? Or, sometimes more importantly, who doesn’t buy your products? Knowing what gaps you have can help you better craft your value proposition or even redesign your product offering to take advantage of those opportunities.
  • What channels do those same demographics use to look for products? If you aren’t delivering your message in a place that your audience will see it, you might as well not even deliver it.
  • What do your customers feel is different or valuable about your product? Identifying what prompted others to make the final purchase decision can help you highlight that same value to others.

Proper market research can not only help you reach your consumers, but it also offers the ability to strategically plan your business. If you know what products your target audience is interested in, what is trending, and what their buying patterns are, you can plan your products or services accordingly. It offers you the ability to boost inventory based on what is selling or alter your services to fit consumer demand. Your company can be ready for what’s to come and stay ahead of competitors.

How can you perform market research?

This type of research may seem costly and time-consuming. However, it doesn’t have to be. With the prevalence of cell phones and other communications technologies, there are many research options that are cost-effective and expedient. For example, conduct surveys individually or with focus groups (virtually, via phone or in person).

You may also perform research through social media platforms. While social media offers a great platform for advertising, it also provides excellent information about what consumers are interested in, what they are buying, and what is currently trending in markets and across multiple demographics. Here are just a few ways you can leverage social media:

  • Engage with your audience in real time for live feedback.
  • Analyze how consumers speak about your product and incorporate their terms and language in your messaging for more impact.
  • Track topic trends and hashtags to keep your marketing timely.
  • Reach a broader audience than direct messaging alone.

While your methods of market research may vary, the goal is the same: Find out who your audience is and what they need. As you perform more in-depth research and learn more about your audience, you can optimize your research methods to be more successful in the future and allow you to build stronger and more accurate connections that lead to bottom-line results.

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Both marketing and market research are imperative for your company to achieve ultimate growth and customer satisfaction. The saying “information is power” holds true in this instance – the more informed you are about your potential customers, the more you can tailor your business strategy towards their specific wants and needs.

While conducting market research may seem tedious and impossible, it’s not an unbearable feat, especially if you have some help. If you’re not sure how to begin performing market research, contact EXTEND GROUP today.