• May 17
Quantitative research yields nu- merical data and usable statistics about attitudes, opinions, behaviors, and other variables. The results can then be generalized to a larger popula- tion. Think surveys and polls.
. What is already available?
A great deal of secondary research is available free or at low cost from government or industry websites, li- braries, business websites, and maga- zines and newspapers. Secondary re- search is based on studies previously performed by government agencies, chambers of commerce, trade associa- tions, and others. NAED Research and Development Director Erika TenEyck suggests marketers look at the following re- search studies on the NAED website: ✓ The 2016
Mar- ket Overview
is an industry snapshot providing key infor- mation about sales, customers, and ser- vices, plus five-year revenue and prof- itability forecasts. ✓ The 2016
is a compar- ative benchmark- ing report compar- ing financial and op- erations data segmented by sales vol- ume, customer emphasis, percentage of warehouse sales, and high-profit distributors. ✓ The 2016
Technology Bench- marking Study
, which is presented as an infographic, shows the ways in which companies throughout the in- dustry use technology. ✓ The 2016
Leveraging Your Data
provides information about data ana- lytics, tools for processing and sharing analytics findings, and the process that makes it work. ✓ The 2012
Maximize Your Mar- keting Efforts
is a study that explores marketing practices, metrics, brand strategy, collaboration, and online and social media. For more research marketers may find helpful, visit naed.org/research.
. Do we need primary research?
Primary research is conducted by the company or by a consultant or re- search firm on its behalf. Primary research can answer questions spe- cific to a company’s needs, while sec- ondary research is not customized and also available to the competition. For example, secondary research can reveal how much money was spent on electrical products last year, but not what customers would be willing to pay for a specific product.
. Do we have the budget for research?
On the low end, secondary research is often free. On the high end, quantita- tive research can run in the tens of thousands of dol- lars due to the sophisticated tech- nology required to get a representa- tive sample and the time involved to gather data. Some lower-budget op- tions include using university classes or student-run agencies, hiring inde- pendent consultants, and studying up and conducting the research in-house.
Start with the Basics
Susan Mason, senior director of mar- keting for Springfield Electric Supply, Springfield, Ill., relies on a number of sources to inform her marketing plan- ning and strategies. Although in this position for only a few years, she has been with Springfield Electric for 30, previously serving as sales manager for the lighting division. “I look at our business intelligence and CRM data for opportunities for new products, or if we’re transitioning to a new LED lamp, I’ll do some data mining to see who’s been buying the previous version of lamp to narrow the target market for the new one. I also look at Google Analytics to make sure we’re optimizing our e-commerce site,” she explained, adding that she also uses some third-party sources to gather industry and market share data. But Mason gets her best infor- mation by simply listening. “Most of the information we need to know is right under our noses,” she said. “It’s with our sales associates, sup- pliers, and customers. They’ll tell us what we need to know; we just have to ask. It’s important to have a good idea of what to look for and to be creative about where to get it. People can learn a lot just by listen- ing and observing.” Savvy marketers know that re- search is key to successful mar- keting planning. Research provides customer insights, competitive in- telligence, and industry data that are crucial to selecting marketing strategies and tactics that will help the company gain and maintain a competitive edge. In fact, research should be part of the annual market- ing plan so the results can be used to make decisions about future market- ing efforts. So it’s never too late (or too early) to start. ;
is a strategic communications con- sultant and freelance writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Qualitative research is a smart way to get beneath the surface—to dig deeper for data that’s needed to form a hypothesis. Then that hypothesis can be tested and the size and scope of the issue can be determined with quantitative research.
—SHAD THOMAS Glassbox Research
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