The world of business failures is littered with ventures who launched the next big thing to the resounding thump of nothingness.
After many months or some years we excitedly launch our dream business only to find there’s no demand for the offering. Where did it all go so wrong?
If you are the 10th clothing store in a suburban shopping street there’s a fair chance you didn’t get the basics right. No venture, product or service should ever go to market without research – specifically market research.
Market research is recognised as the undertaking of information gathering to determine the potential customer base, its needs, preferences and evolution relating to a specific opportunity. While market research is not an exact science it would be naïve to consider there is not a science underlying the approach for market research.
Applied in a process-driven approach, market research is now viewed as a ‘forward-scoping’ tool which aims to minimise risk and capitalise on opportunity.
It is not simply the delivery of shiny sales collateral and approaches – market research is an investigative process designed to secure an insight into the current market, its capacity and the evolving path it is on.
Determining the potential customer market, its demographic, location, capacity to access products and its habits, preferences and values helps to determine whether to progress with the opportunity and if so also how to position it to meet the needs of the market.
Failing to undertake market research is fraught with risks and issues and also demonstrates to the potential client base that those driving the opportunity are not customer focused.
Opportunities to undertake market research are considerable and varied – even for those with limited resources.
Market research may include benchmarking of those currently in the ‘space’ under investigation; desktop research; use of crowdsourcing for feedback and data gathering via Enterprise 2.0 technologies; news monitoring; research monitoring; industry feedback \; focus groups; informal conversation and networking; ‘street talks’ and pop up events and more.
Using diverse opportunities to gather information adds to the integrity of the data.
Investment in market research reduces the risk of costs in realigning the opportunity and resolving emergent issues at the ‘back end’.
Marketing, like communication, has significantly evolved over the past decade, from the back end of an operation to now being present from inception of an opportunity or initiative.
the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably
Now integrated into all elements of a business process, marketing functions are evident from working to determine product or service feasibility through to delivery.
Marketing previously was viewed as a function to secure sales for an identified product or service. It has only recently become evident that this approach is fraught with issues. Now marketing is used to confirm whether there is an opportunity and if so how to best capitalise on that opportunity.
Marketing, branding and position are all elements which work together to build a credible and desirable product.
Encompassing research, communication, education, engagement and analysis, marketing is a holistic approach which works hand in hand with public relations – but is not the same.
The differentiation between marketing and public relations lies within their core goals – marketing is focused on delivering product or service delivery objectives while public relations is more broadly concerned with the organisational objectives .
Failing to undertake key marketing activities in a methodical manner results in the potential customer not being engaged with the product or service – resulting in poorer sales and branding recognition.
For those in small business, a key component of building business capacity lies within marketing the business itself – via engagement and communication activities which build reputation and credibility.