Market Research Before Launching a PR or Marketing Campaign

Before you launch your public relations, social media, advertising or marketing campaign you want to know who your audience is. And not only do you want to know your target market, you want to know what they think, like and buy. And how do you find that out? Market research surveys, right? I mean that’s the way the big boys do it. Millions are spent each year to find out the secrets of how target markets think, feel, and spend their money. But here’s another question: is that money well spent?

There was a market research survey that asked those involved whether a Stradivarius violin was worth a million dollars. The response was overwhelmingly in the affirmative. The following question was whether the participants would like to have one. Again they responded with a resounding yes. The final question in the survey was whether the participants would buy one. Well, you can guess the response to that question. Without the right questions, or without enough follow up questions, that type of research can lead you down a blind ally or take you round in circles.

Market research can be valuable, but it can also be expensive and ineffective. There have been studies done using MRI’s to discover what parts of the brain we use to make hypothetical decisions and what parts we use to make actual real world decisions. It turns out different parts of the brain are activated. That’s where the disconnect comes in. Traditional market research deals with hypotheticals, i.e. would you like this color product better than that? How much would you pay for this product? Would you buy this product? That’s different than making an in-the-moment, real world choice. Database research sounds good, because it has a tangible ring to it. It’s sounds factual, statistical, yet it can often be wrong.

Different companies take different approaches, Google is big on market research, but it’s not your standard market research approach it actually has its users become part of the product building process. On the other hand, when Steve Jobs was asked how much market research went into developing one of Apple’s products his reply was “none.” He explained that it wasn’t the customer’s job to create the product.

So what should companies who need to watch their marketing budgets do when it comes to market research? Be savvy. Use social media sites to ask questions. Do your own limited market surveys. Then you need to rely on your passion and your intuition, listen to your gut. When it comes down to it, a company needs to be built on passion and belief in one’s product or service and you don’t find that in market research studies.