Business Growth

Market Research – Your Roadmap for Success

What exactly is market research? Why is this powerful tool important for your business? Market research provides valuable insights on what people will buy, why they’ll buy it, and how to incite them to buy. It’s also used to answer the age-old question, why do your customers choose YOU? In this blog, I’ll highlight why market research is so critical to your business, as well as provide you with key reasons why you’ll need to hire a professional marketing agency for unbiased research.

Why conduct market research?

Market research sets your company up for success by providing the information that you need to make informed business decisions. Experience alone is not enough; arm yourself with research and facts to understand your market and your customers. Market research can help you:

  • Understand your customers and their preferences
  • Identify potential issues you may not be aware of
  • Understand how your customers define your brand
  • Identify ways they value the services/products you provide
  • Learn how your customers compare you with your competitors
  • Test new products/services and/or new markets
  • Gauge the success of a new advertising campaign
  • Identify performance, pricing and/or promotion opportunities
  • Monitor the competition in your market
  • Keep up with the changing marketplace and economy
  • Mitigate risk in your business decisions

Market research methods

When conducting market research, there are basically two types of methodologies:

  1. Qualitative researchis information that comes from conducting deep “quality” research through the use of discussion guides, and is typically gathered via phone interviews, face-to-face interviews, or focus groups. Questions are typically developed by use of a discussion guide outlining issues or concerns you’d like your customers to weigh in on. The answers can help you understand why they chose your company to work with, what they value in your service/product, what they think of your brand, and how they respond to your marketing/advertising. This type of research is best used when you want to understand the needs of your customer so you can better target your marketing and messaging to their needs and values.
  2. Quantitative research is usually numeric, and done through a survey. It is far less detailed and there is no discussion with actual customers. It involves sending out a survey to customers and gathering statistical information, which can then be extrapolated to give you averages and percentages, e.g. 9 out of 10 customers are satisfied with your level of customer service. This type of research is best used for measuring customer feedback on an ad or a new service, or the launch of a new offering.

What unbiased research means

Almost every business owner I know says that they know their customers, that they speak to them on a regular basis and if there was a problem, their customers would tell them. Sorry to say, but this is rarely the case. Just like we don’t tell the server that the food was really bad, our customers may very well give us a truthful answer, but more likely they will give us a version of the truth. When a third party speaks with your customers, they feel this is their opportunity to really share the “truth” without hurting any feelings. If you are asking your customers directly then this is 100% biased research and is considered invalid because you have a vested interest in them being satisfied customers. Unbiased research doesn’t allow opinions, nor preconceived notions or preferences to affect the research. It is conducted with an entirely open mind and not biased in any way towards a desired outcome.

Market research benefits to your business

We’ve been conducting market research for almost two decades and I know how it can positively impact a business by providing actionable insights that can act as a catalyst for organizational growth. These insights will equip you for better decision-making and provide you with a greater understanding of customers, and competitors. Market research can help you to maximize the potential of your current business activities and create a roadmap for targeted marketing strategies and future growth. Every business, large or small, can benefit from having market research in their arsenal. 

Use a professional agency to conduct market research for your company

Market research is not a DYI project. It’s very time consuming and requires trained and skilled resources to perform, analyze and deliver results without any research bias. Set your business up for success and hire a professional marketing agency with proven processes, resources and analytics to maximize the potential of your market research.

CreativeWorks Marketing will work with you as a trusted partner in achieving your business goals. As a first step, we’ll establish clearly defined goals for market research in addition to determining what you need to know and why. We’ll perform, analyze and deliver results of the highest quality and keep the data confidential. Contact us today and let’s discuss how market research can benefit your company.

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Lately, We Just Don’t Communicate

Imagine your business is about to launch a new campaign. You are sending out an e-blast to give your customers 20% off their next purchase. You’re confident this will be one of your company’s most successful ventures to date. On the day of the launch, your office is flooded with emails and phone calls regarding your new offering, and while you’re ecstatic, your team is frantic. But why?

While your campaign was crafted to a tee, the internal communications to your staff informing them of the upcoming campaign and its details were non-existent.

There are two sides to any marketing campaign. External marketing allows you to get your message across to your intended audience, and internal marketing allows you to effectively market your campaign within your organization. In order for any marketing campaign to be successful, you need to create a plan for both.

We all know that running a new campaign can be time-consuming and we get wrapped up in the details and often don’t take the time to keep our staff up to date. In order to ensure a successful campaign however, you’ll need to bring your staff up to speed so they know how they are impacted and what, if anything, they need to do.

Here are a few key tips on how to effectively prepare your staff for an upcoming marketing campaign:

Give Advanced Notice

After working with your marketing team to develop a new idea for a campaign, share it with your staff. If a new campaign is being implemented without staff members knowing all the details, it’s easy to get the message confused. Sharing your ideas for the new campaign will allow staff to prepare, and will also encourage them to contribute their own thoughts and ideas towards the new campaign.

Provide Supporting Materials

After giving your team the heads up about the new campaign, it’s time to get ready to launch. Depending on what kind of campaign it is, you will need to provide your team with supporting materials that will allow them to carry it out as you had intended. For example, if you are promoting a new service for your clients and they are encouraged to call in and inquire about it, prepare a script for your front line staff. If calls should be directed to your sales department, then the person answering the phone needs to know where to direct the call. The more informed they are, the increase in likelihood of a successful campaign.

Measurement Matters

It’s one thing to let your staff know about a new campaign; you also need to follow through with them about it. Ask them how the campaign is going; are they getting a lot of calls/emails/website requests? If your team is dealing with customers directly, you need to communicate with them effectively so you can measure the success of your new campaign.

Share Success

Your campaign has just ended and of course, it was a hit! Share this success with your team. Not only will sharing the success encourage your employees, it will also give you a chance to evaluate what went well, and discuss how you can create an even stronger campaign the next time around.

In order to effectively market any campaign to your customers, you need to be prepared to market it internally as well. Keep your staff in the loop when launching your next campaign; you’ll be surprised at the difference it makes.

Automated Marketing: It’s All About Targeting Your Customers

blogNot a day goes by that I don’t read an article about automated marketing,       re-targeting, or how large multinationals are re-tooling their marketing departments to make way for this new era in marketing. It appears that a new marketing game is afoot and we in the marketing field are all facing a shift in what will surely be the new norm.

At its core, automated marketing uses software to more effectively market your brand on multiple online channels like social media and websites and automate repetitive tasks. Whether through the use of cookies, profiling tools, database or sales platform integration, these automated systems provide the holy grail for marketers: specific details on your customers needs and wants, so you can specifically target them with advertising that addresses these needs. This type of marketing provides the customer with something you know they want.

Sounds amazing and it is, but it will require businesses to work more collaboratively with their sales and marketing teams, which is no easy feat! The more these two teams can be seamlessly integrated, the better able you are to develop strategies that receive increased ROI.

I know I consistently speak about the importance of strategy, but in automated marketing it becomes even more important because you are researching and mapping out your customers’ behaviours so you can target them with the appropriate type of advertising. Without a strategy of this type, your automated marketing will fail.

This is one of the greatest changes our field has seen in years, a chance for sales and marketing to really work together and focus our attention on what really matters—our customer.

Stay tuned for my next blog where I’ll share a few insights on getting started in automated marketing.

Has your company created an automated marketing strategy? What are some of your challenges?   I look forward to an active discussion!

Would you play football without a strategy?

Marketing StrategyAs I watched my son’s football game this weekend, I was struck with how important it is to have a solid strategy to win the game.

I know many would debate whether the game is won by good defense or a strong offensive line, but these are mere executables – the game, very few can deny, is won on the best game strategy.

Imagine a game with no strategy, with players not knowing their position or their objective. I can’t imagine that game being very successful.

Growing your company requires having a winning marketing strategy, yet surprisingly not all companies have one. Instead, many have a list of tactics or “plays” they should have and then execute on them. Often through sheer luck, the “play” or marketing tactic is successful in the short term, but over the long term of a game or of a business quarter, the tactics run thin and the result is a loss.

To win the season, coaches will set a strategy, which will be tweaked depending upon the battle on the field. Similarly in business, if you want long-term gains, then creating a strategy is the only way to go.

Your marketing strategy should be to influence both existing and prospective customers that your business offers something unique or special – differentiating you from the crowd. If you fail to persuade people that your service is unique or offers “additional value”, then your customers’ buying decision may simply come down to price alone.

A focused marketing strategy depends on continually explaining and emphasizing how and why your business is not only reliable and represents good value, but is also different (read better) from the competition in subtle and genuine ways.

With a strategy in place, you could have a year like the Patriots did in Super Bowl XXXVIII! In business, your marketing strategy will lead you to create and implement marketing campaigns and tactics that stay focused on the needs of the target customer, with an emphasis on continuously communicating the benefits of your services over those available from the competition. Do I hear touchdown in your future?

What do you think? Do you have a professionally written marketing strategy that you follow in your business? If not, what’s stopping you from creating one? I look forward to your comments below.

Is Marketing More Than a Good Ad?

Marketing Strategy

Marketing is an ad. Marketing is a brochure. Marketing is a press release. And more recently, Marketing is a Facebook page, a LinkedIn page, or a Twitter stream. At least, that is what many SMB owners think. But in reality marketing is strategic, not tactical.

Marketing sits at the intersection of the business and the customer, so it makes sense that most businesses seek out new and innovative ways to attract customers. Although some tactics like a new website, online marketing, videos, and brochures may initially attract customers to your business, resulting in a “boost” in the short term sales, I can guarantee that ad hoc, reactive tactics do not have long-term growth results.

Let’s face it, customers are fickle and with thousands of options and competitors out there, businesses today not only have to attract the customer, but build loyalty to keep that customer coming back.  Brochures and even websites alone do not build customer loyalty, your brand and brand values build loyalty.  Branding is part of the process involved in a marketing strategy.

Sometimes a business owner understands that they need a more permanent solution to their marketing and sales growth, but they are not exactly sure what they need. In the world of marketing there is only one true answer to increased growth and that is to have a marketing strategy.

A good marketing strategy will:

  1. Begin with a competitive analysis – The primary goal is to analyze your competitors to find out their strengths and weaknesses so that you can make knowledgeable decisions about your marketing strategies and set the stage for creating your unique selling proposition. Understanding customer needs, wants, buying habits and future industry trends may also be included in the analysis.
  2. Define your audiences – Clearly identify whom you will be targeting with your product/service.
  3. Define your unique selling proposition (USP) – The primary goal is to clearly define what makes your product/service unique and stand out from your competitors.
  4. Create a brand identity – The goals here is to outline what value your brand has in the market place, what values it provides to your customers and what colours, tone and overall look your brand should have that best reflect your USP.  This is much more than a logo.
  5. Create a tagline to support the brand. The new tag will reflect the direction of the brand and emphasize the expertise of the business. This tag along with the logo will effectively position the brand in the minds of the target market by creating a unique identity.

 As you can see, there is a lot of thinking and planning that goes into the development of a marketing strategy and none of it involves creating a brochure or website. Like building a house, your marketing strategy is your foundation, and we all know what happens to a house without a solid foundation!

Do you feel that you need a marketing strategy, or have you built your marketing without one? Have you ever hired a marketing company to create a marketing strategy? If not, why and if so, how was it helpful? I look forward to hearing from you in the comments below.

Lead Gen – Asking The Right Questions

In a perfect world, our marketing and sales efforts would produce our desired revenue growth. But as many small and mid-sized businesses know, the challenge is not just deciding on the right lead generation activities to drive enough qualified leads, but also to increase the productivity of your sales team, and to improve your visibility to your target audience.

Like many business owners, you might understand the need to make changes to your marketing and sales processes, but aren’t quite sure what needs to be fixed or how to fix it. You want increased sales and increased brand exposure – but how do you get there, and where do you start?

The answer to fixing your sales processes lies in asking yourself the right questions.  “Leave no stone unturned,” as it is said, because the more you ask, the more you answer, and the better your business becomes.

As the owner of a marketing agency, with almost 20 years of marketing experience focusing on small and mid-sized businesses, I’d like to share with you a few questions that you should consider, in order to generate the right leads, increase your productivity and improve your visibility, to help get you to where you want to be. The questions do not have simple answers, and will require some time and consultation with your sales and marketing team.

If you need some more clarification on any of these questions, or help in deciding what to do with your answers, consult with a marketing agency you trust to find more specific advice on how to generate your desired results.

  1. What market segments do you target, and why (e.g. Small businesses)?
  2. Which specific businesses do you tend to approach (e.g. bakeries, daycares)?
  3. How much do you know about them? (What is important to them?)
  4. Who are your competitors, and how well do you know them?
  5. How do you fare compared to your competition? (Do they have more staff? How do your prices compare? Do you serve different regions? etc.)
  6. How are your current lead generation tactics performing?
  7. How can your current lead generation tactics be improved?
  8. How effective is the current sales process in educating prospective clients, and optimizing close rates?
  9. What marketing and sales tools are currently in place, and how can they be improved?
  10. Are there additional marketing and sales tools that should be developed?
  11. Is the required marketing and sales technology in place to support the lead generation, sales and post sales activities?
  12. What are the technologies that should be put into place?

Can you see how asking yourself these questions might help your business to strategize more efficiently? Are there any questions that you didn’t understand – or are there any questions that you ask yourself, when strategizing a new lead gen, that you think ought to have been included in this list? Please let me know in the comments below.