Research to Make Better Marketing Decisions

By Alexander Hiam

Do you have any marketing situations that you want more information about before making a decision? Then take a moment to define the situation clearly and list the options you think are feasible. Choosing the winning ad design, making a more accurate sales projection, or figuring out what new services your customers want — these are the types of situations in which a little research can help you make important decisions.

This table shows what your notes may look like.

Analyzing the Information Needs of a Decision
Decision Information Needs Possible Sources Findings
Choose between print ads in industry magazines and e-mail
advertisements to purchased lists.
How many actual prospects can print ads reach? Magazine ad salespeople can tell us. Three leading magazines in our industry reach 90% of the
market, but half of these aren’t in our geographic region.
May not be worth it?
What are the comparable costs per prospect reached through
these different methods?
Just need to get the costs for each method and number of people
reached, divide cost by number of people, and compare.
E-mail is one-third the price in our market.
Can we find out what the average response rates are for both
magazine ads and e-mails?
Nobody is willing to tell us, or they don’t know. May try
calling a friend in a big ad agency; he may have done a study or
something.
Friend says response rates vary wildly, and he thinks the most
important thing is how relevant the customer finds the ad, not the
medium used.
Have any of our competitors switched from print to e-mail
successfully?
Can probably get distributors to tell us this. Will call
several and quiz them.
No, but some companies in similar industries have done this
successfully.
Conclusions?
Seems like we’ll spend less and be more targeted if we
design special e-mails and send them only to prospects in our
region. Don’t buy magazine ad space for now; we can
experiment with e-mail instead. But we need to make sure the ads we
send are relevant and seem important, or people will just delete
them without reading them.