Why research matters
By Leslie Galbreath
Why do leaders fail?
Put simply, they make bad decisions. Sometimes those decisions are based too much on emotion or gut instinct. Other times, decisions are made to appease key influencers without considering the masses. In some cases, decisions are made too quickly or not quickly enough. And sometimes, decisions are based solely on habit – this is a particularly risky one, can’t see the forest for the trees and all that. There are a slew of reasons leaders make bad decisions, not the least of which is the absence of reliable information. The same can be said of strategic planning.
The ability to make sound decisions with regard to communications strategy, tactics and budget rests solely how well we effectively size up the situation and then act on it. As consumers, we get it – we research everything. We vigorously scour the internet to compare airline ticket prices, hotel rates, mobile phones, appliances, cars, shampoo, clothing, computer technology, shoes (maybe that’s just me) – the list goes on and on. The point is, if you have a big decision to make you take the time to look into it. Companies should do the same with their marketing programs.
Now, I’m going to blow your mind with this next line, so hold on to your hats. Marketing is not about convincing customers to agree with you. Quite to the contrary, good marketers understand that communication is meant to help companies identify sentiment and preference among their customer base, uncover and understand what they need (even when they don’t know themselves) and adjust to fill this void in a unique way that grows business. Sometimes research guides product development directly, other times it alerts companies that they aren’t talking enough about the great things they do. Either way, it connects customer need with goods and services, which is what we’re all after.
Research can be a scary word that brings to mind huge dollar signs, annoying phone calls, little bingo cards that fall out of your favorite periodical and all manner of other things. But it doesn’t have to be. The brave new world of digital media has opened countless doors for companies large and small to tap into customer opinion and behavior at a fraction of the cost of yesteryear. Online survey tools make it easier and more affordable than ever to check in with folks who just attended your open house. Native website analytics give you loads of useful information about the content habits of users. CRM-based marketing automation makes it possible to customize communication based on interest and buying history. The possibilities are endless.
The bad news is that failure is a part of life. It happens to all of us at one point or another. The good news is that with a little effort, we can learn from it, dramatically reduce the likelihood of it happening again and in the process delight our customers by giving them what they need, which we can all agree is a win for everyone.
I love this topic, so stay tuned.