Some of the wisest—and most wasteful—marketing dollars spent are spent on marketing research. And it’s not always how much that is spent, but who it’s spent with that makes the difference between a wise investment and folly. The capabilities and understanding of the marketing researcher conducting the project are what sets one apart from the other.
So what sets highly effective marketing researchers apart? We have developed our own list of Ten Habits of Highly Effective Marketing Researchers.
Habit 1. Highly effective marketing researchers start with secondary research. Before initiating a primary research project, effective marketing researchers consult potential sources of existing information. Looking at previous research is a typical first step. But many researchers fail to take advantage of the information available through secondary research.
Frequently, research companies that specialize in particular industries, such as telecommunications, medicine and high-tech, sell or syndicate these studies, making them available to multiple clients. Associations and other special interest groups also frequently commission studies that are made available to members and others interested in the research.
For example, we were able to obtain three separate studies for a high-technology client that together provided a comprehensive picture of that company’s client prospects, a ranking of their decision making criteria for their product, a vivid description of the barriers to switching technologies, specifics on the prospects’ expectations regarding contractual requirements and pricing and a projection of the industry’s future.
For another client, we located a nationally syndicated study of consumer attitudes that was used to compare with primary research of consumer attitudes in that client’s local market.
In both cases we were able to save the clients considerable money because the information they sought was already available through other sources.
The advantage of secondary research is that the cost of conducting the research is shared over several purchasers, so it can be a bargain compared with primary research. Of course, close examination of any study’s sample, methodology and the areas of inquiry are necessary to ensure that it’s still a good bargain.
Other secondary research sources include newspapers, trade publications, industry consultants and government websites and databases.
Of course, the Internet can be a goldmine of valuable information–if you know how to separate the wheat from the chaff. For more information on secondary research, see Evaluating Online Content.