Marketing Research: How to Ask Really Good Questions - dummies

Marketing Research: How to Ask Really Good Questions

By Alexander Hiam

Market research can tell you about your customers, competition, and industry. If you can get a better idea or make a better decision after conducting market research, then research is worth your while. Moreover, sometimes research helps you explore your identity to improve the way you position yourself in the market.

Another key reason for conducting market research is to identify the attributes or prioritized needs your clients seek and/or value. Furthermore, research can tell you whether a communication strategy (the way an ad, website, or mailing talks to the customer) is appealing and clear. The following sections highlight the most common reasons for you to conduct market research.

These days, you have an infinite amount of information at your fingertips. However, you probably don’t want a million-page report, even if it’s free. What you want is smart information that relates directly to important questions — questions that shape your marketing program and allow you to operate more successfully in the future.

Say you’re in charge of a 2-year-old software product that small businesses use to do their planning and financials. As the product manager, what questions should you be asking? The following are the most likely:

  • Should we launch an upgrade or keep selling the current version?

  • Is our current marketing program sufficiently effective, or should we redesign it?

  • Is the product positioned properly, or do we need to change its image?

A good question is thought provoking and affects your future actions and successes. If you come upon a really good question, research it carefully. You’ll find that the first question breaks down into many more specific ones that, when answered, help you make a good decision.

How do you go about answering your question? Creative information-gathering is the key, and sometimes it helps to follow a formal research process. This figure depicts the market research process in flowchart form.