Over the past couple of months we’ve been exploring the ins and outs of market research – why it’s essential (part 1), how to gather the information that’s required (part 2)… and now we’re going to look at the final piece of the puzzle, which is what to do with the vast pile of information that has accumulated during your market research campaign.
The underlying purpose of market research is to identify and thoroughly understand your unique market niche and to spend your limited marketing dollars wisely.
So how do you wrangle all the data you’ve gathered into a clear, concise marketing and business strategy that is actionable and outlines the direction in which you want to head as a team?
There are a number of tools to analyse the vast sums of data you’ve collected to help you prepare a marketing strategy. Here are a few.
Pivot Tables – Want to know who your top 3 competitors are, or the average price of competing products? As we indicated in Part 2, knowing how to use excel and the pivot function is a must. It helps to summarise the volumes of data on your competitors’ products that you’ve collected and slice and dice it to view the information in different ways. Check out some of these tutorials. Don’t forget to also use graphs to show complex data simply.
A PESTLE (Political, Environmental, Societal, Technological, Legal, Economic) Analysis provides you with the important big picture outlook, by forcing you to consider how each of these external factors could affect the set-up or growth of your business. This will give you a better understanding of how to manage these risks or exploit opportunities going forward. For example; a significant technological change for Australian universities which they are currently grappling with is how new technologies will impact their business models and future course delivery. More specifically, market research shows an exponential increase in smartphones around the world, and their increasing internet use combined with the introduction of free Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC’s) (eg Coursera). This has the potential to dramatically shift the way courses are consumed worldwide and can be both a threat and opportunity to universities.
SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) is used frequently in business, but not always properly. A really good analysis includes looking at how to mitigate each weakness and threat. This is, if a weakness in your business compared to your competitors (identified from your market research) is that you don’t have a piece of equipment or staff with a particular skill set then you may mitigate this by purchasing or renting the equipment and hiring a staff member or contracting someone’s services. Or you may partner with another organisation to get access to both. See example of SWOT Analysis with risk mitigation strategies.
Product, price, place, promotion – also known as the 4P’s is useful once you’ve done your homework on your competitors and your own capabilities to clearly state what you are taking to market, how you will price it, where you will sell it and how you will sell it.
For example: Yvette Adams, 2013 ICT Woman of the Year and Founder and CEO of the Creative Collective did her research, before writing her book titled “No Kidding! – Why our kids know more about technology than us and what we can do about it”. Yvette had been asked many times to share her wisdom on social media and technology by parents concerned about their children’s use of it. Yvette an accomplished marketer looked up children’s technology books on sites such as amazon and google and found that the books available were primarily negative and focussed on cyber bullying and how children spend too much time on computers.
Yvette wanted to allay parents’ fears of technology and social media and bring them up to speed on terminology, technology and sites. To ensure she covered what parents wanted to know she also used social media (Facebook groups) to ask parents what they wanted to know, and she spoke to industry leaders.
- Product: Book titled “No Kidding” – book for parents on understanding technology and social media
As a previously self-published author Yvette used her prior knowledge for knowing that maximum price for this type of book is $30. For the e-version which was new to her Yvette took the advice of her distributor and consulted with others in the industry.
- Price: $24.95 – $30 + postage (e-book – $10)
To find the best distributor Yvette started on google and asked her NZ distributor for recommendations and then validated her findings with authors and publishers on a Facebook group (Australian Writers Rock).
- Place: Sold direct on nokidding.com website, distributed through numerous online channels including amazon, google play, kindle and also through a distributor for national bookstores, and websites including Booktopia.com.au
Yvette has a well-established business with over 10,000 clients on her database and she is a social media and PR professional. Yvette has used her current promotional channels to promote her new product to her current customers and wants to grow her sales in a new sector– schools. To do this she is currently doing her market research to identify the most efficient ways to get traction and distribution.
- Promotion: Book launches, public speaker, e-marketing to database, strategic partners, PR/media, 17 social media channels (Special interest groups in Facebook, twitter, YouTube, Instagram, pinterest, google+), website
The Business Model Canvas is also a great tool for laying out your business on a page using information that you’ve collected about your key partners, key activities, resources, cost structure, customer relationships, channels to market, customer segments and revenue streams. It can show how your business operates, as well as show the gaps in the business. Our tip: use a big wall and be armed with post it notes.
Each of these tools and resources should help you make sense of the data you’ve collected and put you well on your way to understanding where or if your product/service fits into the competitive and changing environment. If you validate your marketing and business ideas as early as possible, you can save considerable time and money down the track.
Market research can be seen to be a big job, and almost daunting. As we covered over the three part series, it can be less so by breaking down; plan, collect, analyse and putting the knowledge into action.
Keep on it, and keep it up to date with new intelligence regularly, so that each year this task becomes easier, and you can monitor that you are heading the right direction.
If you have any questions about market research and strategy or would like to discuss how we can help you, please don’t hesitate to contact us.