This is a third part in a series on ‘Getting the Most From Your Marketing Research’ from guest blogger Chris Bonney of Bonney & Company. Bonney & Company is a full-service marketing research firm, providing a full range of custom marketing research services to businesses, government agencies and organizations in the non-profit sector.

microphoneTo be an effective and efficient consumer of marketing research, it is important to understand the following:

  • The concept of sampling*.
  • If you are doing research that involves live interviewers, find the very best interviewers you can. This is not the place to save money.
  • Good research is intellectually honest. If executed properly, it provides an honest reflection of reality, not what you want reality to be.
  • You marketing research to learn about people, not to convince them. Research is not the place to sell.
  • Your researcher is the consumer’s representative in your working process. Don’t shoot the messenger.
  • The consumer doesn’t care what your problems are. Research is not the place to be defensive if consumers see things differently than you do.
  • Take what consumers say to heart, but don’t take it personally.
  • Not all of your customers or prospects are likeable people.
  • The marketplace is full of ambiguity, mitigating circumstances and competition. This is the world your customers live in.

* The concept of sampling is theoretically simple, but frequently misinterpreted in practice. The idea is that a properly developed sample—that is, the group of people you choose to interview or otherwise include in your study—can serve as an accurate representation of the larger universe from which it is drawn. To know what a pot of soup tastes like, for example, you don’t have to eat all of it. If you stir the pot and draw a ladle of it out, you can know what the soup tastes like. That’s how sampling works. Your mix up your universe of target audience members and draw from that universe a representative sample. The key to making it all work is that you have to include as many people as you can from the sample in your study or else your “ladle” will not be representatives.

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