This is a ninth and final 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.

Chris BonneyI’ve avoided a detailed inventory of commonly used research methods. A good researcher will help you sort through these and determine which one(s) will best meet your needs. But in closing, let me clear a few misconceptions:

  • Online surveys and social media can be valuable research tools for certain target audiences. But they still have sampling issues for more large-0scale consumer surveys.
  • Online surveys can be less costly than some other data collection methods in certain circumstances, but not always.
  • Focus groups are probably the most misused form of research today. A poorly conceived focus group can turn you off research altogether. A series of well-designed and well-executed focus groups, on the other hand, can provide knowledge and insight that makes possible vast success.
  • No matter how many focus groups you do, they’re still not statistically representative. Focus groups are primarily a tool for answering “Why?” questions. They are not the best place to take “How Many?” questions.
  • Telephone and mail surveys are not dead. A well-designed telephone survey conducted by an experienced telephone interviewer can still be one of the best research tools there is. A designed and targeted mail survey can still be one of the most cost efficient research tools.

Marketing research is frequently portrayed as a dull, lifeless discipline practiced by dull, lifeless people. This might have been the case at one time, and there are still a few researchers who prefer to burrow into the numbers and produce thick reports rather than interact with real people. Numbers are important. But the modern marketing world doesn’t have much room for researchers who can’t reduce the numbers to meaning. The researcher of today has to be an adept designer, analyst, listener, interpreter and presenter. When you find the researcher who meets these specifications for you, I encourage you to take him or her into your organization’s family of trusted partners.

I wish you well with your marketing research.

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