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Top 7 Ways to Get Market Smart

By Claire Cunningham

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The communications lesson for the day is "know your audience." If you want your message to be meaningful, you need to understand what's important to prospective buyers of your product or service.

Think you already know what’s important to prospective buyers? If you've been working in an industry for a while, you probably have a hunch. And you may be right. But why not ask and confirm your thinking? You'll get your information "straight from the horse's mouth," and you'll avoid relying on assumptions that could prove wrong. Especially for major steps like rethinking your company’s direction or introducing a product, I recommend investing in research before gambling with the marketing budget.

There are several ways to get smart about what buyers want. All the best methods involve asking questions.

  1. FOCUS GROUPS:

    Description: A small group (5-9 people) of qualified participants meets to discuss a topic and/or react to a product or idea. Discussion is led by a moderator who follows an established Discussion Guide. Groups may be observed via one-way mirror and may be audio and/or video taped.

    Advantages: - Provide immediate feedback; can help identify issues; lots of control over who participates; can probe and get clarification.

    Disadvantages - Small number of participants means results are qualitative not quantitative; cost; difficulty recruiting participants.

  2. PHONE INTERVIEWS:

    Description: Qualified respondents are contacted by phone and asked a series of standardized questions. Interviews are usually conducted by research professionals. A monetary incentive is offered to participants.

    Advantages – Fast turn-around; interviewer can clarify answers and probe for more information; easy to segment participants; can provide quantitative results.

    Disadvantages – Cost; difficulty identifying qualified respondents; difficulty getting phone numbers.

  3. IN-PERSON INTERVIEWS:

    Description: Qualified respondents are asked a series of standardized questions. Interviews are often held at a research facility and are usually conducted by research professionals. A monetary incentive is offered to participants.

    Advantages – Fast turn-around; interviewer can clarify answers and probe for more information; easy to segment participants; can provide quantitative results; interviews can be observed confidentially.

    Disadvantages – Cost; difficulty identifying qualified respondents; difficulty scheduling interviews.

  4. EARTH MAIL SURVEYS:

    Description: A standardized questionnaire is sent to qualified participants. An incentive may be offered.

    Advantages – Lower cost; can yield quantitative data.

    Disadvantages – Results may be unreliable since respondents self-select; difficult to segment participants; slow turn-around; no opportunity to clarify and probe; list and postage costs.

    I recommend you have a pro design your questionnaire and research strategy so you get usable information.

  5. FAXED SURVEYS:

    Description: A standardized questionnaire is faxed to qualified participants. An incentive may be offered.

    Advantages – Lower cost; can yield quantitative data.

    Disadvantages – Results may be unreliable since respondents self-select; difficult to segment participants; slow turn-around (especially with Earth mail); no opportunity to clarify and probe; difficulty getting fax numbers.

    I recommend you have a pro design your questionnaire and research strategy so you get usable information.

  6. EMAIL and INTERNET SURVEYS:

    Description: A standardized questionnaire is e-mailed to qualified participants or is posted on an special web site. An incentive may be offered.

    Advantages – Lower cost; can yield quantitative data.

    Disadvantages – Results may be unreliable since respondents self-select; difficult to segment participants; no opportunity to clarify and probe; difficulty getting email addresses.

    Internet and email surveys can save money on postage, but you should have a research pro design your questionnaire and strategy so you get usable information.

  7. INFORMAL RESEARCH

    If your budget and audience are small, you may be able to do informal research. Here's what I mean. Think of 3-5 questions that will help pinpoint prospective buyers' hot buttons. Call your top customers and prospects and ask away. You'll have great conversations, and you'll learn something each time you talk to someone. Develop a matrix of everyone’s answers to learn even more.

Claire Cunningham, The Marcomm Mom™ of Clairvoyant Communications, helps companies jumpstart their sales with increased visibility. Visit http://www.clairvoyantcommunications.com and sign up for her monthly e-newsletter, Marketing Communiqué. Contact Claire at 1-763-546-0479, 1-612-709-6845.

Source: http://Top7Business.com/?expert=Claire_Cunningham

Article Submitted On: June 02, 2008