Even though marketing and business are constantly changing, one thing is constant; the strategic value of the marketing research process. B2B companies can more effectively understand and implement marketing tactics and business decisions with the help of research activities.
Designing marketing strategies without supporting them with research and market data is similar to not going on holiday without any plans. Therefore, marketing research is used to gather critical market data which is essential for building effective sales and marketing strategies.
You should do marketing research frequently because business practices and consumer needs are continuously changing in B2B markets. Marketing research will help your team understand more about your target market and prospective customers. In addition, you can realize which B2B marketing strategies and plans will be most effective for your company’s brand. This post will teach you how to run a marketing research process in just five simple steps.
What is the process of marketing research?
Marketing research definition refers to the systematic gathering, evaluation, and interpretation of data about market circumstances. It is one of the most important topics about marketing.
The primary reason for using marketing research methods is to determine whether consumer behavior has changed due to the addition or removal of certain marketing mix elements (product, price, place, promotion). In addition, marketers must be aware of shifting market trends, such as shifts in customer needs and preferences, new items launched in the market, and competitive product pricing.
Marketing research is the process of learning everything there is to know about a particular market region in order to promote a specific service or product. There are numerous resources and technologies available to assist marketers in conducting market research and analysis. In addition, market leaders and emerging businesses each have their own research departments. These companies present the best examples of marketing research.
Using marketing research agencies
Numerous specialist marketing research agencies also provide excellent research and analysis services to huge corporations and businesses. As a result, many organizations perform marketing research using various readily available and cost-effective resources and methods.
A well-integrated strategic planning process will always require market research and knowledge to develop a feasible B2B marketing strategy.
Functions of the marketing research process
Marketing research is a strategic and essential process for guiding marketers and a company’s executive leadership in making strategic decisions. Conducting marketing research can require highly specialized abilities that extend beyond the knowledge covered in this subject. However, each marketer should be knowledgeable about the fundamental principles and methodologies of market research.
At some time, a marketing professional will almost certainly be required to supervise internal marketing research. Additionally, you may sometimes need to collaborate with an external marketing research agency to perform a research project.
B2B executives familiar with the research function can better articulate the problem and critically analyze the research specialists’ proposals. Additionally, they are better equipped to assess their results and recommendations.
B2B marketers must solve marketing problems independently, without the support of marketing research specialists within or outside the organization. Don’t worry about that. When you comprehend the basic process of marketing research, you can monitor and even execute a practical examination for the necessary information.
So, let’s dive into the steps of marketing research.
5 steps marketing research process
There are five marketing research process steps that will enable you to obtain and comprehend the information necessary to choose the best way to suit your needs.
The process of marketing research entails identifying a problem, developing a strategy, collecting information, assessing data, and eventually putting everything into action.
Businesses benefit from the research process when developing their marketing strategies. In addition, marketing research informs organizations about B2B customer needs and assists them in developing new marketing strategies.
Now, let’s walk through the marketing research process steps. So, what is the first step in the marketing research process?
1. Define the problem or situation
The first step in the marketing research process is to define the problem or situation. Any research should begin with a precise identification and definition of the problem you are attempting to solve. Next, you start by expressing the marketing issue that needs to be addressed and additional information to determine a solution.
Following that, state the research’s objectives: What do you hope to learn by the end of the research project? What must particular facts, guidance, or suggestions emerge from the research to justify the organization’s time and money investment?
This initial phase requires you to specify the situation, opportunity, or problem you are researching. Define the aim and scope of your market research. By determining what you hope to learn during this process, you’ll have a clearer understanding of the data that needs to be collected.
When determining what you wish to learn, formulate the research questions you want to address. They can assist you in remaining focused during your marketing research.
Numerous market research inquiries will concern customer demographics or marketing techniques. The following are some sample questions:
- What is the most effective marketing technique for manufacturers?
- Why are distributors uninterested in your offering?
- Which industrial segment makes the most usage of your products or services?
- Are you investing sufficient time and resources in your social media strategies?
- Who is the ideal customer for you? Have you defined your Ideal Customer Profile?
- Which method of advertising is the most cost-effective for you?
After you’ve created your questions, establish the type of information you’ll need to gather during the market research. Additionally, consider any potential sources of a problem you’re attempting to resolve. Similarly, consider the possible consequences of any marketing techniques you choose to apply. This basic planning can help ensure that the remainder of your study goes smoothly.
2. Develop the marketing research plan
Now that you’ve determined what you want to research and the data you’ll need, it’s time to develop your marketing research plan. Determine whatever strategies you can employ to address your research questions during this stage of the research. Consider where you can obtain pertinent information and the tactics you should utilize to collect further data.
When developing your marketing research strategy, consider what other businesses have done to achieve success. Examine various case studies to determine the tactics employed and the data acquired. By examining what worked for similar companies to yours, you can save considerable time and effort.
Marketing research teams frequently use several strategies to assist them in locating critical information during the process, including the following:
These are the descriptive studies typically undertaken to ascertain the customer’s understanding of the product, their needs, problems, interests, and level of satisfaction. The most effective method of conducting B2B customer surveys is through the use of questionnaires.
The researcher can get information simply by monitoring market activity and occasionally engaging in casual conversations with customers to learn about their purchasing experiences.
Focus group interviews:
Many marketing research teams conduct interviews with qualified leads or customers to acquire qualitative data. An interview can be conducted one-on-one or in a focus group setting. To identify who will be interviewed by your team, you may have to make some preliminary demographic studies. Next, determine who’s input would be most beneficial during the study process.
Utilize your marketing research questions to assist you in developing questions to ask the individuals you are interviewing. Additionally, it may be beneficial to describe the aim of this process so that participants understand what information they should offer.
B2B companies collect data using various devices and techniques, depending on their marketing research process. Therefore, a marketing research strategy should be presented as a written proposal.
When the research project is sophisticated or when a professional agency is conducting the research, a written marketing research proposal is important for consistency of the process. The marketing research plan must include the problem, the particular research objective, and the data gathering details.
3. Conducting research (collecting data)
Now that you’ve created your research plan, it’s time to begin implementing it in order to collect your data. Collect both quantitative and qualitative data during the marketing research procedure.
Quantitative data is made up of numbers and physical objects. This type of data enables marketing teams to respond to questions regarding how much, how frequently, or how many.
Qualitative data is non-quantitative, descriptive, and observational in nature. Qualitative data can be gathered through focus groups or face-to-face interviews. It can assist you in gaining a better understanding of buyers’ feelings or views concerning something.
While collecting marketing data and information, you may see that more tactics are required to obtain extra data. If you need, optimize your process. Adjusting your plan is a natural part of the research process, as you may encounter obstacles or discoveries that you did not anticipate. Throughout the process, check-in with your team to ensure you are receiving all necessary information.
Always be objective
During gathering data, ensure that your staff remains objective. While it may be tempting to seek out evidence that supports your position, this will damage the quality of your research. Rather than that, keep an open mind throughout your investigation to ensure that you discover material that is genuinely valuable to your team.
When gathering data during the marketing research process, ensure that information is objective and truthful. You have to accept the results as they are rather than twisting the data to prove your point.
And always be honest
Getting accurate data and being honest with yourself is essential. That’s why you do testing and avoid trusting assumptions when making choices that could significantly influence your company. Don’t forget that great marketing campaigns depend on systematic market research.
So, never ask a survey subject, “Do you believe we should provide a higher pricing range with extra services?” This style of question is intended to sway the participant’s response. Instead, attempt to ask both open-ended and closed-ended questions. This way, you will be focused on acquiring the information necessary to resolve the stated issue or problem.
4. Evaluation of the collected data
Once you’ve gathered all the necessary marketing data, it’s time to examine and assess it. First, analyze your data for patterns and trends. Avoid attempting to identify precise patterns that correspond to your expectations. Rather than that, examine all of your data and see what you discover.
It’s better to write down a summary of the research process, including the methodology used, the results, the conclusions, and the actions you recommend taking in light of the findings. Even though an official marketing research report is not required, it is critical to examine the study and results in order to clarify the recommended course of action.
Put your results and findings in this summary. Then, discuss how you would have handled certain situations differently next time. Then, for future projects, you may refer to this synopsis and save significant time and resources.
Outline the further measures you want to take. For example, you are working to determine which industry platforms your target market is interested in the most. Then you discovered that it is one of the industry exhibitions. As a result of the research process, you should now develop a marketing strategy for that exhibition.
Interpretation of the marketing data
Effective analysis is critical since it is essential for the interpretation of research data. Data analysis sifts through data in order to provide a picture of what is happening. The interpretation goes on to explain the meaning of the research data and to give suggestions to company executives about what they should know and do in light of research results.
For instance, what is a concise list of significant findings and takeaways from the research that executives should keep in mind? Which market categories (ex: specific industry segments) have you determined, and which ones should you focus on? What are the key reasons your customers pick your competitor’s product (good or service) over yours, and how does this affect future product enhancements?
Finally, which types of market research are the best fit for your business, market, and customer base?
Include marketing experts into the research process
Experts with an in-depth understanding of the business should be included in the data interpretation process since they are best equipped to recognize critical insights and provide recommendations based on the study findings. Marketing research reports include both data analysis and interpretation to help achieve the project’s objectives.
Depending on the business culture and management preferences, the final report for the marketing research process may be written or in the form of a slide presentation. Often, the ideal format for initially conveying research findings with internal stakeholders is a PowerPoint presentation.
A written report, particularly for large, complicated projects, can be a superior vehicle for sharing specific results and nuanced data that management may analyze and refer to in the future.
5. Process the marketing research to action
After the report is completed, the briefing is given, the suggestions are made, the marketing research process is concluded, correct? Totally wrong.
This is possibly the most critical stage of the process; taking action based on your marketing research results.
Suppose your project does an excellent job of understanding the findings and converting them into suggestions for the marketing team and other organization sections. In that case, this stage may appear rather simple.
When research findings verify an organization’s current course of action, the “take action” phase can inspire the team to move even further and quicker in that direction.
If new methods are required
Things are not as straightforward when research indicates that a new course or a big shift is necessary. In these instances, it is worthwhile to invest time assisting managers in comprehending the study, articulating why a course correction is prudent, and articulating how the organization would profit from the change.
As with any important business choice, managers must thoroughly consider the new strategy and meticulously map out marketing strategies, sales tactics, and available resources to plan properly.
By making the data available to executives and their operational teams, the marketing research project can act as a continuous guide and touchstone to assist the company in planning, executing, and adjusting the path toward desired activities and goals.
From research process to the marketing strategy
It’s worth noting that a large proportion of marketing research studies never result in managerial action. Occasionally, this is due to the report being overly technical and hard to interpret. In other circumstances, the research process provides no relevant insights or remedies to the problem. Or, The report’s author makes no particular recommendations for turning the research results into a marketing strategy.
These dangers can be avoided by paying close attention to the study objectives. In addition, you should give appropriate time and resources to effectively interpret research findings for those who would have to act on them.
Final ideas on the process of marketing research
The following are some helpful ideas to remember all across the marketing research process:
- Obtain both qualitative and quantitative data
While reviewing quantitative data such as the number of purchases or social media impressions is beneficial, it is also necessary to research more descriptive data. For instance, in addition to purchasing data, determine why customers make these purchases. This can be accomplished through open-ended questionnaires and in-person interviews.
- Take notes during interviews and focus groups
While your team should take notes during client interactions, you should also request permission to record the session. In this manner, you can listen to any sections you missed and pick up on the tone of the participants’ comments.
- Maintain an open mind
Be receptive to unexpected results and new chances during your investigation. You may discover a more effective marketing strategy that you would not have considered initially. Consider the marketing research process as an opportunity to broaden your horizons and gain insight.
- Utilize multiple research techniques
One research approach is unlikely to provide you with all of the data you require. Instead, collect data using a variety of ways to ensure that your results are representative.
- Attempt to obtain huge sample groups
With a larger and more diverse sample population, you will get more useful data. Therefore, when conducting research, reach out to as many people as possible. However, if your team wishes to learn more about a certain target population, some of the sample groups may consist of individuals with comparable demographics.
- Research takes time, be patient
When examining patterns and trends, it is critical to do so over an extended period to observe how various variables affect them. For instance, you may notice an uptick in sales around the Christmas season. It is critical to maintaining data collection outside of these busiest seasons.
- Visualize data to aid incomprehension
Visualize your knowledge using charts and graphics rather than staring at a spreadsheet of numbers and other data. Visuals can assist you in identifying patterns and trends within your data. Additionally, they help other employees in comprehending your marketing research.
- Distribute your findings widely
Your research results may be most beneficial to the marketing team. They may also help other departments within your company better understand your clients or the rationale for your marketing approach. Finally, compile all of your data and findings into a PowerPoint presentation and distribute it to all employees or deliver it at the next corporate meeting.
Final words on marketing research process
After you’ve understood the marketing research strategy, your team may begin obtaining important data that will aid in the development of your marketing plans. By conducting marketing research consistently, you can gain critical insights into your customers and market trends. These insights can assist you in developing more effective marketing strategies for your brand.
Because effective marketing strategies evolve frequently, your marketing research process will never be fully completed. However, your marketing team should adhere to the research process to remain unique and discover the most profitable target markets. Continue to examine your results to determine where you can make improvements. If your marketing strategy is effective, keep track of your development and success.