Cheat Sheet

Marketing Research Kit For Dummies

From Marketing Research Kit For Dummies by Michael Hyman, PhD, Jeremy Sierra, PhD

Marketing can increase your sales and profits. To optimize your sales and target the best customers, you need to conduct research to pinpoint the best approach for your marketing communications and strategies. Ensure that you’re conducting the best research possible, recognize and question standard marketing research terms so you understand every step of the process, and practice good research ethics to protect your business and guarantee its success.

Checklist for Conducting Good Marketing Research

Successful marketing research helps you make good marketing decisions and run a successful business. The following are some ideas for those moments when you decide you really need to concentrate on marketing to boost sales to a higher level. This simple checklist can ensure that you’re conducting good marketing research:

  • You have well-defined research questions.

  • You have a sound strategy for data collection.

  • You have a clear and concise measurement instrument or approach.

  • You can ensure appropriate and efficient data analysis and interpretation.

  • Your approach is part of an ongoing research program.

Common Marketing Research Terms

Conducting marketing research involves working with professionals who use a variety of terms to describe the parts or steps of the research process. The following are common terms you’re likely to encounter in your research, along with definitions.

  • Close-ended question: A survey question that asks you to choose from a variety of answers — like a multiple-choice question.

  • Data: The actual measurements that you get from your research.

  • Focus group: A small-group discussion, led by a moderator, about a research question.

  • Mean: Used to measure the center, or middle, of a numerical data set. It’s the sum of all the numbers divided by the total number of numbers. Also known as the average.

  • Median: Like the median on a road, it’s the true center of a numerical data set, or the middle-ranked value or score on a variable (the 50th percentile).

  • Mode: A detail, such as value or score, that occurs most often in a given set of data.

  • Nonprobability (nonscientific) sample: A research sample that reflects information only of people who choose to respond; the probability of selecting certain population members is unknown.

  • Open-ended question: A survey question that you answer in your own words, instead of choosing from a list of responses.

  • Probability (scientific) sample: A research sample that reflects information that can be proved with very little or no margin of error. The circumstances under which questions are asked are so rigid that they enforce the truth; the probability of selecting certain population members is known.

  • Reliability: The accuracy, precision, and consistency of information being measured.

  • Response bias: A conscious or subconscious tendency to not respond truthfully to research questions.

  • Response rate: The number of research questionnaires completed divided by the number of eligible respondents who were asked to participate in a survey.

  • *Test market: A controlled experiment that mirrors actual market conditions.

  • Validity: The accuracy of a measure; the degree to which a score accurately captures the type of information being sought.

  • Variable: A quality or quantity that can change from person to person (such as annual income) depending on the type of information being gathered.

Whenever you encounter information from research professionals that doesn’t seem clear, be sure to question the people you’re working with for further explanation or clarification. It’s important that you know exactly what’s going on in a study in order to achieve your marketing goals and improve your business.

Practicing Good Marketing Research Ethics

Often, the success of marketing research depends on cooperative respondents. So when a researcher behaves unethically and abuses those respondents, he not only hurts the future of his business, but he also potentially hurts the success of future research because abusive or questionable treatment tends to discourage respondents from participating in future studies. As a result, you want to make sure you behave ethically at all times during research.

If you answer “yes” to any of the following questions, you should halt your research and ask yourself whether you’re being unethical and damaging the future of your business:

  • Will my marketing decision treat me, or my company, as an exception to a convention that I must trust others to follow?

  • Would I repel customers by telling them about my marketing decision(s)?

  • Would I repel qualified job applicants by telling them about my marketing decision(s)?

  • Is my approach too narrow, exclusive, or cliquish? (If answer is “yes,” answer a through c. If answer is “no,” skip to the next question.)

    • a.Is my marketing decision partial?

    • b.Does it divide the goals of the company?

    • c.Will I have to pull rank (use coercion) to enact it?

  • Would I prefer avoiding the consequences of this marketing decision?

  • Am I avoiding any of the questions by telling myself that I could get away with something?

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