Marketing: Research to Find Better Ideas
Always keep one ear open for interesting, surprising, or inspiring fact that can inform your marketing strategy. Information can stimulate the imagination, suggest fresh strategies, or help you recognize great business opportunities.
Subscribe to a diverse range of publications, read interesting blogs, and make a point of talking to people of all sorts, both in your industry and beyond it, to keep you in the flow of new ideas and facts. Also, ask other people for their ideas.
Take advantage of the growing world of online social networking to talk to people about your product and how they view it. If you’re on Facebook, Twitter, or a blog website, chat up your friends and virtual friends for opinions, suggestions, and ideas. Much of what you get back will be chaff, but you may find the grain of a great new marketing idea in there, too.
Pinterest, Flickr, and Instagram are highly visual, with members’ selections of photos, graphics, and other visual art rich in insights into how people are thinking, feeling, and living and how trends, needs, and concerns are evolving.
A whole new art and practice of studying such websites is emerging, and you, too, can be an anthropologist of sorts, studying your own culture to seek business and marketing needs and opportunities, or even just to update the vocabulary (visual and verbal) you use in your marketing communications.
When asking for input and information on websites and in virtual web communities, be honest about who you are and why you’re asking for advice. If you tell people you’re in charge of marketing your product and want to know what they think of your new ad, many people will offer their views freely.
If, however, you pretend to be someone outside the company who’s just trying to insert business questions into an innocent chat, people will sniff you out and be angry with you for subverting their social network for business purposes. Honesty and transparency are the keys to successful research in online communities.
Don’t fall into the trap of spending all your time online, though. Make a point of talking to people face to face, too. Carry an idea notebook in your pocket or purse and try to collect a few contributions from people every day. This habit gets you asking salespeople, employees, customers, and strangers on the street for their ideas and suggestions.
You never know when a suggestion may prove valuable. Lee Iacocca kept an idea notebook in his early days as a marketing guy in the auto industry — and out of those jottings came the idea for the Ford Mustang, one of the biggest brand successes in history.