Learn How Research Influences Marketing Strategy
Developing a marketing strategy is vital for any business. It keeps your team aligned and working toward the same objectives. Without one, your marketing is likely to be ineffective and inefficient.
Here at VI, we have a four-step process to strategic planning. The process is linear – meaning the first step must be completed before proceeding to the second step.
The process is:
1. Situation Analysis
We must begin by exploring the current situation. Where are we now? Where do we want to be? What obstacles are we going to face to get there? Who is our target audience? And so on.
From this situation analysis, we can clearly define our objectives. What do we want to accomplish? And how will we measure it or define success?
Only after objectives have been set can we begin to develop a strategy to reach the stated objectives, and tactics (or action steps) to execute said strategy.
So, where does research fit into this process? The answer is simple – everywhere.
Recently, I was writing a strategic plan for a non-profit client who wanted to begin targeting millennials for the first time. Aside from the fact that I am a millennial (and yes, I hate the word just as much as you do), I didn’t have much specific knowledge on the subject.
So, I began researching.
- What do millennials like? Dislike?
- What are their communication preferences?
- Which social media platforms do they use?
- What are their preferred devices (not just tablet vs. mobile but iPhone vs. Android)?
- What’s their economic status?
- What are they passionate about?
Lucky for us, research is easier today than ever before. A Google search alone leads to a lot of valuable information. Just make sure the source you’re pulling from is reputable. Some of my favorite resources are Fast Company, Forbes, Inc. and AdWeek. Online subscriptions to services like Scarborough, eMarketer and Prizm also aid in data collection, market segmentation and defining target audiences.
Each component of the four-step process is influenced by research, enabling us to develop smart, targeted and effective strategic plans for our clients. How do we know they’re effective? Because we’ve done our research. We have measurable objectives that allow us to produce quantifiable results.