Research for Developing a Marketing Plan

Research is obviously an important part of the process of developing, drafting and implementing a marketing plan.  A good deal of research should be completed even before the company turns to settling on its objectives for the marketing campaign since the company will need to collect as much information as possible about its potential target audience(s), their current behaviors, and any obvious impediments to changing those behaviors that might need to be considered in developing secondary objectives for the company’s marketing strategies and activities.  Research should also be used a way to validate some of the assumption that the company might be making about what message needs to be given to the target audience and how they are likely to react.

 

Companies should rely on a variety of research methods and sources of information including interviews with experts, government reports, demographic data, focus groups, surveys, literature reviews, privately-commissioned market research surveys, and even direct observation of behaviors of prospective customers as they inspect competing products.  The research process should be tightly focused so that it stays on track and those involved in the preparation of the marketing plan should remember that research is necessary in order to make good decisions and set solid marketing strategies rather than just to collect information that is not relevant.  This is why setting the target audience is so important because research can then be limited to that audience.  A reasonable budget for research should be established at the beginning of the marketing plan preparation process and a portion of the budget should be reserved for later use in order to explore issues and questions that may arise once the company has begun implementing the plan.

 

As noted above, research is particularly important in learning more about the likes, dislikes and beliefs of the members of the company’s target audiences so that the company has a better understanding of what marketing activities are most likely to change their behavior.  Research should be conducted to identify what the target audience wants with respect to the products and services offered by the company, what they know and believe about the company and its products and services, and what type of information and messages they will trust.  Among the key questions regarding target audiences that can and should be answered through research are the following:

  • Who are the members of the target audience?
  • What are the demographic characteristics of the target audience?
  • What are they doing (or not doing) now with respect to the products and services being offered by the company?
  • Why are they engaging in their current behaviors regarding the products and services being offered by the company?
  • What fundamental needs are being satisfied by the current behaviors of the target audience regarding the products and services being offered by the company?
  • Do they have all of the information necessary to make informed decision regarding the products and services being offered by the company?
  • Are there significant knowledge gaps or misconceptions among the members of the target audience regarding the products and services being offered by the company?
  • What are their values and attitudes–what do they believe and whom do they trust when receiving and evaluating information?
  • What likely barriers will they have to changing their behaviors in the manner desired by the company?

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