Marketing is about a lot more than just going out and selling a product, service, or idea. If anyone could just go out and become a photographer, for example, and immediately begin getting clients, they would. That isn’t how it works, though. First, that photographer would need to know what kind of person would want to pay for their photography. They’d need to know how to market to that type of person. They’d need to know how to get that type of person to even see the marketing efforts they are putting in. How do they find all of that out? There are a variety of types of marketing research methods that can be utilized in order to figure out your overall marketing strategy.
One example of a marketing research method is performing competitor analysis research. The competitors don’t need to be selling the exact same product as you, obviously you’ll have differences in style, available items, etc., but they should be in the same industry and have the same target audience. If you are, for example, attempting to market a clothing line to young adults, you’d want to look at similar companies with the same demographics. Looking at a company who targets teenagers or middle-aged women isn’t going to be helpful, since how they market isn’t necessarily going to be what makes you successful.
First, look at what types of marketing your competitor is using. Do they do door-to-door sales? Are they using Instagram? Do they utilize Facebook? Examine the methods they are using and see how successful they are (to the best of your abilities). The types of marketing they use successfully may be a good place to start for your business, as it is same to assume that, having the same demographic and target audience, those methods may be successful for you as well.
Look at their strengths first. Does one of your competitors constantly show up on the first page of Google when you perform a search for your industry? They may be successfully utilizing SEO methods to optimize their website. Look at their website. See what kinds of titles they are using, look for keywords in their website content, examine their meta tags. These things may be able to lead you in the right direction when it comes to building your own website and eventually giving them a run for their money on Google.
Next, look at the weaknesses in their marketing. If they are using Instagram, but have very little followers, likes, and interaction on their posts, try to figure out why. Perhaps they only post once a week. Maybe they post frequently, but the quality of the photos is low or they are posting at the wrong times. Once you’ve identified the weakness, come up with your solution. Research the best times to post on Instagram and schedule your posts around those times. Hire a photographer who can take professional photographs for you. Make sure you’re posting multiple time a day.
Looking at your competitors won’t guarantee that you’ll be a successful business. You’ll need to use a variety of types of marketing research methods for that.
Focus groups are a way to get feedback from consumers about whatever it is you’re selling. You want to know what your potential customers think about your product, how they feel about, how they perceive it.
Say you’re selling a new line of dolls designed for children ages 4-7. You’d want to gather together a focus group of children within that age group, from various backgrounds. You’d want children from all economic backgrounds, children of different races and ethnicities, children with different family backgrounds, etc. This is so you aren’t just getting the opinions of one type of child since you’d ideally want to market to a variety of different children across the board. Once you’d gathered a group of children, you’d have them play with the dolls. You’d see how they interacted with them. Do they happily engage in play without prompting? Do they ignore the dolls? Do they seem confused and ask you how to play with them? After they played with the dolls, you’d ask them questions about how they felt. Were they happy to play with the dolls? Were the dolls scary? Would they like to have one of these dolls in their own home?
In this example, you would also want to have a focus group comprised of the parents of those children that make up your target demographic. Children aren’t the ones who buy toys for the most part, their parents are. Even if children absolutely love the toys you sell, parents won’t buy them if they feel they are unsafe, age inappropriate, etc. Have parents watch their children interact with the toy. Have the parents examine the toys themselves. See how they feel about them. Ask them if they would consider buying the toy for their child.
Learning how your target audience feels about your product is vital. If the results are overwhelmingly negative, perhaps you’ve chosen the wrong target audience for your product (or the wrong product for your target audience). A focus group can give you an idea of how the public as a whole will react to your product.
What exactly is a demographic? Demographics is basically the study of a population. A demographic can be gender, age, level of education, amount of income, sexuality, even the number of vehicles a person or household has. Marketing typically looks at gender, age, income, ethnicity, and race the most.
Marketers first want to look at what subgroups exist in their target location. Are you a small construction company operating mainly in one city or suburb? You’d want to look at who exactly lives in your area. Are there a lot of single men in the area? A lot of married women with children? This can help to know who you’re going to be marketing to since you’d want to market to the largest segment of the population in your area.
Next, marketers want to look at what main characteristics an average person in these subgroups of the population has. Are married women with children in your area mainly middle-class? Are they mostly Hispanic, college educated, and between the ages of 26 and 35? Perhaps they tend to live in larger houses and research shows they prefer to do remodeling projects when their children are in school. Maybe the majority of them have at least one computer in the house. All of this information is going to help you develop a marketing strategy so that you can better reach the population in your area. You’re not going to use the same marketing plan for the population described above that you’d use for a population that was mostly composed of young, childless, lower-class couples. Essentially, you have to know who it is you’re marketing to.
Overall, the different types of marketing research methods you end up using will depend on the business you are in. If you need to learn about different marketing research methods, you can take a variety of online classes to help you out. One such course, Evidence-Based Stakeholder Marketing, is available through edx.org. In this course, you’ll learn different marketing analysis strategies. After taking the course, you should be able to determine what groups to target in your marketing and how to justify your choice of a certain target audience to the rest of your organization.
Do you want to understand how your potential customers are deciding what to buy? Do you want to learn how to forecast your customers’ buying patterns and see what kinds of marketing they respond best to? Try a course like Marketing Analytics, which is part of the Business Analytics MicroMasters program. In this course, you’ll learn how to use customer-base models, how to price your products and services to get the best return on investment, what to consider when you’re designing new products for the market, and more.
Were you intrigued by the section on demographics? You can take Market Segmentation Analysis. This course will teach you how to divide your potential customers up into groups and then use various methods to analyze those groups. This course uses ten steps to conduct a market segmentation analysis and it will not only teach you how to perform and utilize each step but the purpose of each step as well. It will also teach you what not to do so that you can avoid making the same mistakes so many others make when performing segmentation analyses as part of their marketing strategy planning.
There are a variety of types of marketing research methods, not just the ones included here. What they all have in common, though, is that they are all ways of collecting data, analyzing that data, and then using the results to develop a successful marketing strategy. These methods are based on verifiable evidence, not just what you as a marketer may think is the best way to market. Using these different methods in combination with one another will help any business, or any marketer within a business, to better sell their products and to reach the people interested in buying them.