Tuesday, August 28, 2007

7 ways to use market research

Often we think of market research as a way to get insight from customers with regard to our own company. But, that's not its only use. Here are some ideas:

  1. measure, rank and score yourself on issues that are important to your organization (Key Performance Indicators) or the customer (Customer Core Values). Don't bother measuring things that are not important to either you or the customer.
  2. check out your competitors. So, you know who to copy (and in which way), whose customers to go after (because they are dissatisfied) or leave alone (because they are way too loyal). Maybe you are uncomfortable asking about your competitors, but an independent researcher is not. That's their job!
  3. find out if the perceptions that employees have of their organizations matches the perception of customers and make adjustments when and where necessary.
  4. establish a common starting point (a common data-backed assumption) in your organization with regard to opportunities. This, so that innovative ideas are not shot down or delayed just because of different suppositions. This is especially true when the decision-makers have varying degrees of experience with the issue or look at it from different angles. An example: the director and supervisor may have different assumptions. Whose is most likely to be correct? Whose is most likely to "win" without independent insight.
  5. determine desired ROI. For example: Based on the research data, can you gain 5% market share? What would be the source of this growth? How much would it cost? Is it worth the effort?
  6. If your organization is not yet into ROI, you can use the data to set quantifiable and realistic objectives. Example: if the research shows that you have a 50% market share, is it realistic to set an objective of 25% growth over the next 12 months? In other words, you need to know what your market share is. Otherwise you can't determine if your growth objective is realistic.
  7. create a unique value-added experience. Nowadays it's not just the product that is important. It is the experience when purchasing or perusing the product, online or offline, that is. Through research (mystery shopping) you can find out what customers find a "wow" experience.

Back to school: Market Research and Corporate Strategy

It's been back to school in two ways in the past few months:

First, later today I start teaching Marketing Research at the University of the Netherlands Antilles, using the same text book I had as an undergraduate student (Aaker/Day), albeit a much newer edition. It's a real pleasure to see the difference in the 2nd and 9th edition with regard to geographical scope. The chapters on secondary data sources are also expanded to reflect the abundance of timely, easily and inexpensively available secondary data that researchers now have access to. More emphasis on cost-benefit analysis before embarking on research is also a welcome addition, especially in our small markets. And lastly, obviously, the impact of the Internet on the market research function.

It will still be a challenge to translate the concepts to our smaller market and showing students how to be creative with their knowledge given the limitations. This while reminding them that we do live in a global world and they can more easily end up doing research for larger markets (while still sitting in Curacao) than ever before.

Back to (graduate business) school days also came in an assignment some time ago where we used Product Life Cycles, Boston Consulting Group Matrices and Ansoff growth models, the stuff specialization at The Wharton School was made up of. Now we used them to examine the existing and future potential of each brand as it relates to the client's bottom line and which marketing strategies to follow to realize that potential. Given the experience I have now, I could also develop some of my own strategies. Without doubt one of the more interesting assignments recently.

I realized the increased relevance of these concepts as marketing directors try to manage product portfolios that are ever expanding with new products and line extensions targeted to increasingly smaller segments.

It also made me realize how even more relevant these strategic concepts are to small markets. Marketing Directors are inclined to take on all (or many) extensions of their brand owners in their portfolios in an effort to fulfil the desires of their customers, who have access to global information and just know there is a product "just for them" even if, in a small market, they may be the only one in the segment. What is the MD to do?

Have you stopped to evaluate:
  • the added benefit of a new extension to your clients
  • the added contribution of a line extension to your bottom line, given the sometimes really small segments.
  • how to duly support line extensions in the long run
  • how to support the growth of extensions that will be more relevant in the future with present "cash cows"

Wanted: Mystery shoppers

Because of our increased mystery shopping load, we are looking for more mystery shoppers.
A mystery shopper poses as a customer, visits an establishment, and later evaluates the product and service of the client establisment using a standard evaluation form.

Mystery shops take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours to a few days, at varying times, depending on the client. Shoppers are paid for their efforts in cash and/or kind. It's a fun way to make extra money or get something free.

Mystery shopping, also known among others as shopper audits, and secret shops is an efficient way to:
  • measure is service is being performed according to the establishment's standards
  • determine training needs
  • compare competitors

Shoppers must have internet access every day and be over 21 years of age. Please send an email with: name, gender, age, telephone number to info@markstra.com.

4 Tips for Tradeshow Marketing

Ever stood at a trade show booth and wonder how to increase your return?

Selling at trade shows is particularly challenging because you have little time to assess the potential of a visitor and act on that assessment. In small markets you probably also know many of the visitors who are just there to browse around (and not to buy anything). This provides an additional challenge.

Here are some tips, assuming for a moment that you and your colleagues have already:

  • Determined that the show is a good place to get prospects and serious leads
  • Determined the expected ROI for your participation at the show and based your decision to participate on that
  • Have an attractive booth
  • Know the basics (no eating in the booth, no badmouthing the competitor, and ideally no sitting in the booth)

Now, how do you start a conversation and raise the chances that you do so with someone who is really looking to buy?

  1. Make eye-contact, introduce yourself and ask the prospects’ name
  2. Make your opening question a provocative and open one. Asking questions that can be answered with “yes” or “no” is a no-no. Some good questions: “What has attracted you to our booth today?” , or “What specifically are you looking for at the show?” If the answer is “nothing”, then you know right away that she is not a hot prospect.
  3. Determine how much the prospect knows about your product so you don’t risk boring him with information he already knows. You can ask: “What do you already know about our product?”
  4. Have your talking points ready, so you know which to mention when it’s your turn to speak. Try to mention three. Remember that your talking points should be phrased as a benefit to the customer. Remember also that all your colleagues should have the same talking points in their arsenal. By the way, talking points are also known as “brand attributes” or “your brand’s promise” or “your brand’s unique selling points

The above is an excerpt of a workshop we do on “Trade Show Marketing”.