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Jumat, 22 Mei 2009


We all like to think we base our decisions on hard facts, but that’s not always the case. Business leaders will talk about doing their due diligence prior to making a decision; but in reality, when it comes down to it, what really pushes us to select one thing over another is our feelings.

While instinct and intuition do play a role in business (stories abound of business people who refused to pay attention to the facts and created a success out of what should have been a disaster), 9 times out of 10, cold hard facts and reality cannot and should not be ignored.

This new mini-series of BrandReturn™ (our newsletter’s new name) will introduce the basic concepts of business and market research, share some methods of obtaining data, and prod you to begin collecting data and analyzing that data.

Market research consists of two primary categories: primary data and secondary data.

Primary data is made of information obtained through focus groups, surveys, and observation.

Secondary data is provided by another group, such as the Census Bureau, a professional association, or think tank. A problem with using secondary data sources is their information may not relate to your target market or geographic area.

Obtaining primary data yourself is time consuming and can be expensive; but how much money have you or your company wasted on advertising or activities that ended up not generating the business you thought they would?

You already have some primary data in your customers’ buying patterns. If you don’t have a system that provides you with mechanisms to breakdown data into various groups, then you need to begin investigating how to acquire one.

Here’s an example of how data review and analysis can become important:

A large hotel was experiencing an increase in revenue but not an increase in profit.

As the hotel began to study expenses, it discovered that managers were over-scheduling employees on the weekends and even paying overtime to deal with the expected increase in customers that marketing was driving in. Naturally most business would come in on the weekend and the facility would staff up on Friday afternoons and evenings. When check-in data was examined, management discovered that most visitors were checking in on Saturday morning. By making scheduling adjustments and cross-training employees, the hotel was able to use fewer employees to handle the influx of customers. More employees were given time off on Friday nights, raising employee morale which resulted in improved customer service. Soon, expenses were down, revenue was up, and most importantly, profits were up.

None of that would have happened if management didn’t take the time to look at the statistics, analyze the data, and make adjustments.

Surveys can also provide important information a business can use to improve the customer experience, the employee experience, or extend the brand through additional product offerings.

Surveys are labor intensive since they take a bit of time to create, administer, then compile and analyze the data. If spending a couple of thousand dollars can lead to tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands or more in revenue, it’s money well spent. The same can be said if that investment saves you from spending even more money to invest in something that your customers don’t want (and remember: Customers don’t buy what they need. They buy what they want.).

There are lots of ways to conduct a survey. The method used depends on what data you’re trying to obtain and what customer segment or segment of potential customers (or former customers) you’re trying to reach.

For example, if you own a bricks-and-mortar store, you can ask your customers to complete a quick comment or survey card while you package their purchases. Of course, they may not be as entirely honest as they could be since you’re standing in front of them and, assuming you read the card right after they walk away it’s not anonymous (you could have them drop it in a box for an extra level of anonymity).

You could also mail surveys to customers (with a self-addressed, stamped envelope or SASE), try phone surveys (you can just imagine how hard they are to conduct), or email surveys. All of these techniques have pros and cons and we can’t stress enough that the method you pick should be the best method to be used with the population you’re targeting. If your customers are in a certain age group who are not heavy internet users, an internet-based survey administered through email would be a mistake.

Focus groups can be a great source of information but you’ll need to consider how you recruit the participants, what characteristics (demographic and psychographic) should your participants possess or not possess, and what will you give them as an incentive to attend.

That’s right. You have to incent people to attend. Only the rarest of the rare will participate in a focus group just because it sounds like a fun thing to do. Even surveys need some level of incentive to increase participation. Including a SASE is a bare minimum. No one is going to provide the envelope and postage to complete a survey for your business.

We hope this introduction to research has motivated you to begin thinking about your decision process, the information you’re collecting, and how research could possibly benefit your organization.

In our next issue we’ll discuss how research impacts advertising and marketing decisions and how it gives you more bang for your buck.

About Abiah Designs
Abiah Designs is a brand strategy / full-service marketing firm whose unique, proprietary research process creates and revitalizes brands that resonate with their target markets, leads to increased brand awareness, develops strong customer loyalty and improved market share. Visit our website ( or blog to view our portfolio, read our case studies, and begin to imagine how we can help you.

To grow your brand call 609 653 2233.


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