Do you enjoy spending your valuable time and resources on “random acts of marketing” in the hopes that something works?
We don’t either. Who would?
Allan Dib wrote an analogy in his book “The 1-Page Marketing Plan” that I love, and that applies to this situation perfectly.
Imagine you’re an archer on a hunt. You have a limited number of arrows (money and time) to work with. If you’re just doing marketing without a plan, it’s like going into the woods, closing your eyes, and then firing your arrows any and every direction you can in the hopes that at least a few will hit the mark.
Now imagine if you opened your eyes, aimed with precision, and fired half your arrows on one target. Do you think you’d be more likely to hit your target?
Of course, you would!
It’s time to take the blinders off and start marketing your company with intent. With purpose. With focus.
Let’s talk about the 5-Step Marketing Research Process you can complete in just a few days that will help you get better results.
What is the Marketing Research Process?
A marketing research process is the steps that you go through to help you build a data-backed marketing plan. You set a goal, put together a research plan, collect data, analyze the data, and build a plan to put it all into action. You will repeat this process for each problem you want to solve or the goal you want to reach.
We find that the simplest way to build any new process is to build it while you run it the first time. Set a loose outline for what you’re going to do and refine it as you go. Then you’ll have a scalable and repeatable blueprint that you can follow as you seek the next opportunity or try to overcome your next problem.
Step #1: Set Your Marketing Goal
You need to define the problem or opportunity that you’re going for before you can research how to get you there.
This should be something specific — like launching a new service, targeting a new market segment, or surviving a loss of market share.
Build a list of questions that help you define your problem or opportunity and address any challenges or opportunities that are related.
This would include things like:
- How much should we charge?
- Do we have any delivery hurdles?
- What questions will our customers have?
- Will our employees need to undergo training?
- Are we rolling this out all at once or in phases?
- Will we need to adjust our reporting?
- Is this an add-on to another service?
- Do we need to adjust other campaigns?
- Do we have the staff to execute this?
Step #2: Develop a Research Plan
You have your list of questions in hand, now it’s time to do research — but what research are you going to do and who’s going to do it?
You can conduct research in one of two ways. You either do the research yourself, or you review research that has already been done by others.
To build your research plan:
- Look at your questions and decide if you need to do your own research, or if you think you can find viable research that’s already out there.
- Decide who on your team is best suited to do the research and come back with answers.
- Define what the answers should be — do you want a summary report, statistics, sample mockups, prices, etc.
Step #3: Collect Data
Now that you have a plan for doing research let’s get out there and do it!
For research that you’re conducting yourself, consider using tools like:
- Surveys: You can collect data from customers, contacts, or other sources quickly using tools like SurveyMonkey.
- Interviews: You can conduct in-person interviews with prospects, customers, or other contacts. You could hold group interviews like focus groups or do one-on-one interviews.
- User Testing: If you’re developing a new website, landing page, or other digital application, you can utilize user testing to get feedback quickly. There are even people on services like Fiverr that will test your interface and do a video recording for you.
Step #4: Analyze and Report on the Data
The hard work is done. You’ve defined your problem, done the research, and you have a ton of new data to analyze.
Gather your team and discuss your findings.
Sometimes information will jump out at you, and you easily find a solution. Other times, you may need to compile a summary of findings and dig deeper.
Remember: don’t twist the data to suit your goals. Take it for what it is, and draw the most accurate conclusions that you can.
Step #5: Build an Action Plan
We want to make an important distinction between marketing and tactics as you go into this step.
What is Marketing?
Marketing is the strategy that guides your tactics. Things like social media, blogging, email, and automation are all tactics. They come and go, and some work better than others. Marketing is a tactical plan for helping you reach a goal or overcome a problem — so choose your tactics to meet the plan, not the other way around.
Take your data points and build a cohesive and actionable marketing plan. Think about current industry trends, factors that could impact your success, and the resources you have on hand.
Build a plan that guides you and be prepared to make adjustments as things change in your industry or as new data presents itself.
Build Your Marketing Plan Today
Whew! I know that was a lot of information to take in, and you might be feeling a little overwhelmed.
Don’t worry! Our experts are here to help you build a marketing plan that aligns with your company goals.
That’s why we created a free step-by-step guide that walks you through the process of building your first strategic marketing plan. You can use this guide over and over again every time you need to create a new plan.
Receive your free copy of our 5-step guide here: Fast Track Your Business: The 5-Step Marketing Plan for Professional Services Firms.
As a professional services provider, your billable time is valuable. You don't want to waste it on bad marketing tactics that won't yield the results you're looking for.