How to Conduct Research for Your Business

Though they look at different aspects of your business, both market research and marketing research should follow the same pattern of data collection and analysis.

  1. Define the problem. Start by identifying the focus of your research. Knowing what question you are trying to answer will help you structure your research effectively.
  2. Determine your budget and timeframe. How much can you afford to spend on the research process? How soon will you need to have data collection completed? Like all the strategies that you use to grow your business, research should be conducted within your available resources. However, depending on the urgency of the questions you are answering, it may be worth spending more money to get the most comprehensive results possible.
  3. Design your method and needs. Identify what data needs to be collected and how you will gather it. Some options are observation, surveys, telephone calls, or focus groups. If you are unsure how to structure your data collection, consider working with a professional research firm.
  4. Choose a sampling method. How will you select the participants for your research? You may need a random sampling from the general population of consumers, a group that all have a single lifestyle factor in common, or responses only from people who are already your customers. Create a plan for identifying and contacting your participants.
  5. ​​Plan for data analysis. Decide how you will analyze your data. Will you need quantitative data for statistical analysis or qualitative, observational data to give you a broad picture? Will you use software or do it by hand? Take time to learn about various methods of analysis to find the one that will best answer your research question.
  6. Data collection. Once you know what question you want to answer and have designed a research method to answer it within the constraints of your available budget and time, it’s time to collect data. Many businesses work with professional firms or consultants to conduct their actual research.
  7. Analysis of the data. No matter how straightforward your data seems at first glance, you’ll want to use specific methods of analysis to ensure that you understand what it is telling you. The methods of analysis that you use will depend on the type of data you collected. This should also be when you check for errors, which can occur in your sampling method, data collection, and analysis.
  8. Create your report. The final step of the research process is drafting a report on your findings. Your report should outline the entire research process, from developing your problem statement to the results of your data analysis.

No matter what type of research you are conducting, you will need to follow the full research method to arrive at a conclusion that will benefit your business. If your findings lead to a solution to your problem statement, you will be able to decide on the next steps for your business.

If you were unable to answer your research question, that doesn’t mean your research was done incorrectly. You may discover that you need to ask different questions or that the situation was more complicated than you anticipated. When that happens, it’s time to continue your research until you’ve arrived at a solution.

The Importance of Market and Marketing Research in Business

Market research involves identifying a specific “target,” and focusing exclusively on that group. It is research into a narrow group of consumers to understand their behavior and motivation.

Marketing research has a broader scope that market research. It is used to examine the entire marketing process of a company, rather than only looking at the consumers that the company is targeting.

The Importance of Market Research

Successfully running and growing your business depends on understanding your target customers. Once you have a clear picture of their goals, needs, and values, you are more able to drive them towards purchasing your products or services.

Market research is one of the best tools you have for understanding your customers. It gives you hard data that you can use to drive your marketing strategy, making both marketing and selling easier and more effective.

Market research helps you:

  • Improve communication. It drives your communication not only with your current customer base but with target prospects as well. Market research shows you where your customers can be reached, as well as what language will be most effective in attracting their attention and resonating with them on an emotional level.
  • Identify opportunity. Market research helps you identify both high-level and more accessible opportunities for reaching and converting new customers. It can be the best way to discover new platforms for advertising, consumer concerns you were unaware of, and gaps within your market that you can fill.
  • Lower your risk. Concrete data keeps you focused on the real opportunities and helps you avoid unproductive effort. When you understand your customers, you can use your resources to reach them more effectively, with less risk of wasting time, money, and effort on marketing initiatives that don’t work. Market research also helps you identify low-risk, high-reward areas where your company can expand or offer new services,

The Importance of Marketing Research

Marketing research is important for evaluating what is and is not working in your business model. It includes research into your target market, as well as the systems in your business that make up your marketing conditions.

Marketing research looks at every aspect of the Four Ps of marketing: product, price, place, and promotion. This includes:

  • Public Relations
  • Modes of distribution
  • Development of new products/services
  • Promotions and advertising
  • Pricing
  • Market conditions
  • Branding

Marketing research helps you learn not just what your customers want, but how successful your business is at reaching and connecting with them. It helps you identify problems and opportunities, refine your systems, and evaluate your marketing strategy.

Learn How Much to Spend on Marketing

If I categorized all of the questions that I receive, I would have to say that the majority are concerning how much to budget and spend on marketing. I understand the popularity because this can be a tricky question.

A vital component when it comes to marketing for new companies is testing marketing vehicles to see which performs and provides the best return on investment. The majority of mature companies or businesses that have been in business for a considerable amount of time can look at data and know which vehicles work for them; if they don’t they are in trouble.

Marketing Investment

My recommendations are that companies invest 20% of their resources into marketing. This is 20% of your marketing budget as well as your time. You should continually reinvest 20% into marketing on an ongoing basis. As time goes on you may be able to decrease your time spent in marketing, but in return monetary resources may need to increase. The key is to find the vehicles that work best for your target market. Is it digital, newspaper, audio commercials, television commercials, etc.?

You will find that some people suggest as your business grows to decrease your amount in marketing. I firmly disagree with this tactic. You should always be marketing to new potential customers as well as marketing to the repeat consumer.

Spending Budget Wisely

It’s important to spend your marketing budget wisely.  Follow these guidelines:

  • Know how much you have to spend.
  • Have a strategy on how to spend it and what you want to achieve.

Businesses that are successful when it comes to having a workable marketing budget is that they understand the importance of being fluid and flexible. There will be times that a campaign is working really well and you want to push more money to that specific tactic or channel.

You might also encounter an unplanned campaign or event that you need to spend marketing dollars on. Be flexible, but always know whether your marketing budget is working and achieving the marketing goals that you have set – if not shift!

Reviewing Marketing Mix

Review your marketing mix. There’s no such thing as one specific activity but rather a cross-section of marketing strategies will bring the success you need. It’s the small things that add up when putting things together. Determine what marketing works by asking your customers and disregard any marketing vehicles that are not working for you and reinvest in those that do.

When Determining Marketing Budget

There is no fast and hard rule, every business is different.  Marketing ultimately depends on how fast and how big you want to grow your business.  It does not matter how big or small your business is, without a marketing budget you will only get so far, after that you will start to stall when it comes to business growth.  Having a business growth plan is vital. Using metrics to determine your marketing effectiveness will help in serving as a guide when it comes to how much to spend and where to spend it.

16-Point Checklist to Writing an Effective Direct Mail Sales Letter

We’ve all received direct mail sales letters. We occasionally read them, but most end up in the recycle bin. They’re only a page or two long, yet many of them are just as dead as the felled log they were fashioned from.

Once you’ve targeted suitable companies, found the name and title of the decision makers for your product or service, and the Trojan-like envelope has made it past the always-suspecting secretaries/assistants, and the decision makers have opened up the letter, what will it read like?

Follow this checklist to ensure your letter stands out from the pack.

  • Ensure the message matches the needs of the target audience: Does your offer of products and/or services match the needs of the recipient? Don’t make your pitch to a company president if your message applies only to the marketing staff.

 

  • Get to the point: If you begin your letter with general, hazy information, you risk losing the reader. It’s critical you make your point in those first few lines.

 

  • Be clear and concise: This is part of getting to the point. Skip the fluff; you’re reader doesn’t have time for it.

 

  • Sell benefits, not features: Many business persons love to list and discuss product features. However, your potential customers want to know how he/she will benefit from using the product. It’s OK to list features, but also include the end-user benefits. For example, a feature of the word processor is that it allows you to write and edit content electronically, so you don’t have to retype the entire page. The benefits are that it saves a lot of time, and increases productivity.

 

  • Keep it personal and conversational: Given today’s access to current data, there is no excuse for sending out form letters. Personalize each letter you send out in your direct mail campaign. In terms of writing style, just write like you talk, and you’re sure to make a warm, genuine appeal to your reader

 

  • Use letters to generate leads, not sales: The goal of a direct-mail letter is to generate a response, not a sale—whether it be a return mail card, a fax, email, phone call, or fax. The purpose is to open doors. The sale is the next separate and distinct step in the process.

 

  • Write at a grade-school level: Studies have shown that most of us read at an eighth-grade level. Avoid big words to make the letter easily understood. You can be technical if you choose, but simplify your language as much as possible.

 

  • Postscript (P.S.) is your friend! Case studies indicate that the typical letter recipient’s eye moves down the page to the P.S. before they read everything in the letter. Try to restate your proposition in the P.S.

 

  • Use white space: Readers often are turned off by large blocks of text. Try to use short paragraphs, bullets, and/or numbered lists. Give the reader some breathing room.

 

  • Keep it to one page: Most presidents, purchasing agents, plant engineers, and other decision makers are very busy people. Make your point, sell the benefits, make it easy to read—and keep it to one page.

 

  • Make a “no-risk” offer: Offer the recipient something. Offer free information, an article, some industry tips, free tutorial, or product sample.

 

  • Create a deadline: Whether there is a real deadline or one you create, make one. Usually, a deadline increases the rate of responses because of the limited amount of time to act.

 

  • Call to action! Why not ask for the order? “Call us at +1 248 940 1100, for a free consultation”.

 

  • Use postage reply mail: Include a business reply card for better response. Make sure it has pre-paid postage. Don’t lose an inquiry for the cost of a single stamp.

 

  • Include a guarantee: By offering a guarantee, you offer integrity and credibility to your products/services.

 

  • Include testimonials: Nothing speaks louder for your product or services than a satisfied end user. However, if you use names and companies, make sure you get a signed authorization from them

How to Measure Your Marketing Efforts

It’s true we spend marketing dollars to display at trade shows, attend events, hold conferences, host webinars, advertise and to produce marketing materials for campaigns.

How do we know what we are getting in return? How can we quantify the results of our marketing efforts to make sure they are worth the money spent?

Identifying Goals

This may seem like an easy question, however, it’s one that I am asked often. I have seen companies that don’t measure their marketing efforts. Let me just say that’s a big mistake. While marketing can be for the most part trial and error you can diminish errors by actually using calculations to see which campaigns are bringing in the most results for the money.

It’s vital to develop a consistent plan and marketing strategy that will help you project, measure and evaluate your marketing campaigns, without it, you are simply going about marketing blindly. This is one of the most costly mistakes in business.

In each marketing campaign you must develop a plan and strategy that identify the following:

Quantitative and Qualitative Goals

Qualitative goals are different from quantitative because they address the promotional advantages vs. numbers to measure. Your qualitative goals should be about customers’ perception of your product and/or service. For example, increasing the perceived value by offering a discount or lowering the price of your offering. Positioning is also qualitative, where does your product and/or service rank when it is compared to your competitors. You increase the position of your product by educating on the quality of the product and/or service that you offer.& you can also increase the positioning by going after a specific niche or targeted market and presenting that specialty as an expertise. Awareness is also important when it comes to qualitative data. You must create an awareness of what you offer. This is important in order to get the consumer to purchase from you. You can often increase awareness through advertising efforts. Quantitative marketing is about the numbers. How many attendees, how many units sold, or how many leads captured.

Campaign Budget

What will you spend in order to achieve the qualitative and quantitative goals you have set? What is your desired outcome when it comes to that budget? What will deem the spend as a success?

Fulfillment and Response Strategy

How will you fulfill orders and or services and how will you respond to those that reach out based on your marketing strategy?

Follow-Up Strategy

What is your follow-up strategy? Will you use drip marketing or lead nurturing in order to stay in touch with those consumers that do not purchase immediately? If they don’t buy how will you follow up with them in order to close the sale?

Tracking and Testing Criteria for Your Campaign

Depending on your objective most goals can be measured effectively using one of three methods. These methods include cost per sale, cost per qualified lead, and cost per visitor

Calculating the Costs

Once you decide which result you want to measure and you have the costs incurred for the event; calculating is actually fairly easy.

  • Cost per Sale = Amount Spent for Event/Campaign (A) / Number of sales (S) = Cost per sale (CPS)
    •  Formula: A / S = CPS
  • Cost per Qualified Lead = Amount Spent for Event/Campaign ( A) / Number of Qualified Leads (L) = Cost per qualified Lead (CPQL)
    • Formula: A / L = (CPQL)
  • Cost per Visitor or Response = Amount Spent for Event/Campaign (A) / Number of visitors or response (R) = Cost per Visitor or Response (CPR)
    • Formula: A / R = CPR

Using these formulas along with a developed plan for each campaign will give you the information you need to decide if a campaign or event was effective for your business. If it was…congratulations! If not, it’s time to visit the efforts of the campaign and find out exactly why it didn’t work and how you can improve it the next time. Was it the event location, wrong targeted marketing? Perhaps the materials that you sent out didn’t carry a strong call to action?

There are several reasons why a marketing campaign may fail and not bring you the desired results, but future successes will come from determining what those reasons are.

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5-Step Digital Marketing Sales Process

To meet customer needs and have a successful sales presence in the virtual world requires an internet marketing strategy involving a five-step process:

  1. Marketing/prospecting to your target market and audience
  2. Building credibility and trust
  3. Escorting and courting the buyer through the process
  4. Presenting the product or service that meets their needs
  5. Closing the sale

These five levels of the sales process are the core components that will move your website viewer from visitor to customer. By representing each level and courting your potential customer through those levels, you will have the power to move your website transactions from failure to success.

The five levels build on one another in many ways. A digital marketing strategy that is done correctly will clearly define all five levels of the process and how they are represented through your site. The strategy will then assist you in setting realistic and attainable digital marketing objectives. It will also assist you in using each step to build and influence the others so that the process continually moves toward the successful close of the sale.

Marketing/Prospecting

Prospecting is the first step in the process and is the result of marketing. It’s the delivery of qualified targeted traffic to your virtual storefront. It can be achieved by search engine optimization, pay per clicks, or advertisements that draw people to your site. Once they are there, it is your job and responsibility to deliver your unique selling proposition (USP). To determine your USP, you will need to understand the following:

  • How your product or service fills a void in the marketplace
  • How your business stands out as distinct and appealing and what sets it apart from the competition

Building Credibility and Trust

In a brick-and-mortar business, trust is built by human interaction. Greeting a person when they walk in the door or physically helping them find something is easily accomplished. This next step can also be done virtually, which will build trust and credibility with visitors to your site.

You also build that same trust and credibility by the elements that surround the design and the development of your website. Your viewer is unconsciously judging your credibility by looking at the following:

  • Site appearance as professional and legitimate
  • Attractive images and working links
  • Proper spelling and grammar
  • Easy navigation
  • Easily located assurance and privacy policies
  • Easily accessible support and product information

Your site should work as a personal shopper, a live virtual assistant that knows your visitors’ needs and offers easily accessible solutions.

Escorting and Courting the Buyer

A person who visits your site has been targeted if you followed the first steps in prospecting. The next step is to qualify your visitor. A person visits your site because they are looking for a solution to a problem, which can be a product or service. Internet marketing studies show that seven out of 10 visitors to a site are prepared to buy. Take the time to escort them to what they need.

Your navigation should be structured to assist those that know exactly what they want, those who know what they want in general but aren’t sure about the specifics, and those that are browsing and need some direction.

Presenting the Product or Service

The presentation process is how you present your products or services to visitors as you guide them through the selection process after you have escorted them and determined their needs in the previous stage.

Note that each level of the process overlaps. As you present your products or services to a visitor, be sure that you are keeping their attention and interest by motivating them to continue with the sale.

Closing the Sale

Make sure that your site effectively closes the sale. This involves providing sufficient information about your products and services, such as assurance policies or guarantees, to ensure customer satisfaction. Also, consider adding testimonials for each product or service to build added credibility. Lastly, be sure to provide specific payment information, involving credit cards or personal checks, to eliminate any guesswork, which can ruin a sale. If you effectively court your potential customer through the five levels, you will have the power to move your website from failure to success.