Why Marketing Research is Key to Understanding your Target Audience


It's human nature to assume we know the people we serve. We often spend more time with our customers and employees than with our own family.

I've been guilty of this mindset myself. I've assumed that customers would react to creative campaigns in the same way I might, or make the same purchase decisions.

But it can be dangerous to assume that we know all of our customers' habits and behavior as well as we know our own. The only way to truly understand our customers is to ask them. Survey them. Interview them. Observe them.

Market research is key to learning your target market. Both qualitative and quantitative research can uncover answers about your target audience. What's the difference between these research methods?

Here's a breakdown:

Qualitative Research

Think of "quality". Qualitative research helps gain qualitative insights from a focus group of your current customers or a group of people who may need your product or services. Insights can also be gained from individual interviews or video conference calls, for a more cost-effective method.

The goal with this type of research is to gain some overarching insights into your potential target audience about messaging that would resonate with them, what attributes are important about your service, and how they might react to certain aspects of your creative campaign.

To validate these findings in a larger group, you'll want to also combine this method with quantitative research.

Quantitative Research

Think of "quantity". Quantitative research validates findings in a larger quantity or sample group. Quantitative research can be done online or through other survey methods.

Many companies partner with survey providers who have access to purchased audiences that align with your target audience. For instance, if your company sells fitness bras, a survey provider may give you access to a database of women in a certain age range that have indicated they are interested in health and fitness and live in an area where you're selling your products.

If you have an existing database of your customers, you can utilize your own client list if you're hoping to gain insights about the experience or a new product or service.

Oftentimes, this audience is compensated for their time to take the survey. This compensation is typically $10-$25 per participant, depending on the time it takes to complete the survey.

It's important to keep the survey as focused on the insights you're trying to gain as possible. It's very easy to go down a rabbit hole and ask the audience a laundry list of questions because you want to gain as much information as possible. But, this can be counterintuitive because your audience may get "survey fatigue" and not answer your questions as thoughtfully as you might like. They simply click through the survey just to complete it quickly.

Once this research is conducted, the research partner you choose will provide a report of the findings with key learnings that you can leverage to better target and message to your customers. Research projects can be expensive, depending on how they're conducted. On the other hand, bypassing research and assuming you know your customer can be more costly in time spent and mismanaged media campaigns.

My advice is to not assume you know who your customer is. Invest the proper resources if you truly want to give your marketing campaign a fighting chance.

Need help determining who your customer is? Contact us at Harrison Creative Group.


About the author

Stacey Harrison is an experienced B2B, B2C, and healthcare marketer. She leads Harrison Creative Group as the lead creative strategist. Partnering with small, medium, and start-up businesses, she operates as an outsourced Chief Marketing Officer to develop and implement growth marketing strategies that include branding, paid search and social, content marketing, direct TV, social media marketing, email marketing, and public relations and strategic communications.

Contact Stacey today for a no-obligation consultation about your content marketing strategy.


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