What is the first step in the marketing research process? This question is common among people who are interested in market research. You have to make sure that everything moves as per the set program.
Most people cut marketing research from their business budget because it can get quite expensive. However, market research is a crucial marketing process and you should not leave it out regardless of the nature of your business. Besides, if you know the process and do everything right, you can be sure that it will not be an expensive venture.
Coaches will always remind their players that unless they do things right, failure is inevitable. When dealing with market research, you have to try and hammer home the crucial link between the process and the expected results.
What is The First Step in The Marketing Research Process?
There are several fundamental steps in market research. Following each of them carefully is the only way to guarantee success. you should allow first things to come first if you want to get it right. It starts by understanding all the steps of marketing research.
In the marketing research process, you have to collect data about perceptions, feelings, and opinions. To generate qualitative data successfully, you should gather specific groups of individuals and extract the desired data from them.
This can be something in the form of a focus group and an opinion survey. Marketing research gives people a framework to make sure that they are collecting relevant and useful data. Here are the steps of marketing research that you need to know;
1. Define The Problem
The first step of the marketing research approach is to define the problem or identify the research problem. In fact, this is the most important step in marketing research because the foundation of the rest of the marketing process lies at this stage. If you get it wrong at this stage, you can be sure that you will get all the other things wrong.
Before you embark on the marketing research process, you have to figure decide on that specific problem that you are trying to figure out. What you need to do at this stage is establishing your research objectives. The most beneficial thing during this phase is to develop questions that will assist you to define your problem clearly. As you can see, this stage requires you to invest a lot of time in strategic thinking.
It may seem to be blatantly obvious and self-evident. However, there are so many market researches projects that fail to deliver the desired results because of getting it wrong at this initial delivery stage. You need to have a clear understanding of this stage and develop it fully.
A business can misunderstand the challenge that it is facing or just define it too narrowly. All these are some of the things that can make you get it wrong at this first stage of marketing research. For instance, you may realize that an increasing number of your new customers are walking away after one year.
The main reason behind this may be at the pre-sales level where you were onboarding the wrong type of customer. It may imply that those churning out are not the right type of customers. What we are saying is that you just need to set your objective at this stage.
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2. Establish The Research Methodology and Design
Some ill-trained consultants and even businesses begin the market research process with the design or methodology already in mind. For instance, they could be having confidence or familiarity with online survey tools. Therefore, they base the research problem analysis on that very premise. For instance, they may use online surveys to receive responses, and hence the research problem should conform to that approach.
In such an approach, you will be placing the proverbial cart before the horse. The design and methodology should also come in after identifying the problem. Of course, it should also reflect other variables like the scope, budget, and timeline which can, and normally limit particular options.
For instance, it could be ideal to conduct in-depth interviews. But phone interviews and so cost-prohibitive may turn out to be what you need. However, these adjustments are based on reality and legitimate. They are based on bias and not artificial.
Once you know the problem that your market research is addressing, you will need to develop and design your research plan. There are so many methods that you can incorporate into your research plan. Several techniques can be used to conduct the research. It is good to choose the one that will keep the costs down without compromising on the quality of the results. Some of them include:
I) Interview Customers and Prospects
This could be somehow intimidating at first but you will get used to it over time. The truth of the matter is that this tactic delivers some of the best feedback in market research. Nothing will give you the best information that you are looking for better than going directly to the source. That is why I recommend the use of this strategy if it is ideal for your marketing research process.
ii) Conduct a Survey
Most people use SurveyMonkey and it works pretty well.
iii) Run Testing on Your Website
There is so much that you can learn from simple testing and also reviewing your analytics like HubSpot and Google analytics. Simple A/B testing can go a very long way depending on the type of challenge that you are trying to solve.
iv) Research Online
The ordinary takeaway of going with the standard Google search is to make sure that you are using sources that are highly credible. As you should be knowing, you cannot believe all the things that you read online.
3. Design the Sampling Plan
After identifying the research problem and methodology, the next thing to do is designing your sampling plan. As we said earlier, you should have taken several factors into consideration including the timeline and budget.
At this stage, you will need to identify the research participants and establish the questions that you need to ask them. It is one of the steps that you should not overlook in your marketing research process. It is the immediate step before you can collect and analyze relevant information and data.
4. Gather and Organize Relevant Information and Data
After you have executed your market research, you need to carefully collect and organize data. One of the things that can play a crucial role at this stage is automation. However, you can still get manual components depending on the data collection methods that you are using. However, the process can be time-consuming and complex if it is not being done by highly experienced marketing research pros.
It is also crucial to make sure that there is data hygiene throughout this process. If you don’t do so, the conclusions and insights will be skewed and unreliable. As you continue to collect data, you have to make sure that it is unbiased and valid. Use a mixture of the methods that we have mentioned above to receive relevant information from all angles.
The most appropriate kind of information to collect could be scientific/analytical. The other one could be emotional data that you cannot gather by looking at a graph. Personal stories, to a certain extent, could give so many insights that you are searching for. All in all, you need to handle this stage with a very high level of subjectivity.
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5. Analyzing the Findings and Reporting
This stage marks the end of the marketing research process in 5 steps. As you can see, we can divide the step into 2 sections which include analyzing the findings.
i) Analyze Findings
After gathering the data, the next one is crunching the figures and then translating them into actionable insights and business intelligence. It is a stage where you will require some specialized tools to be able to accomplish your goal. There are so many techniques and models depending on the specific variables for your project.
Ultimately, you need to develop the data into a series of implications, inferences, and insights. There is no way you will handle this stage unless you have the right skills to use in data analysis. You may also require specialized software to help you through this stage.
The last step in the marketing research approach is to present the market research to the various stakeholder groups of your organization. You have to do this in such a way that each of them will find your presentation to be relevant and meaningful.
Remember these are the people who approve the marketing research budget and they will not require shoddy work. You have to prove to them that your findings will take the organization to the next level.
For example, the sales team is basically interested in getting information that relates to the buyer’s perceptions and motivations. On the other hand, the technical team will want to hear more about product optimization and utilization. Make sure you are passing out the information to the correct group of audience.
It may call for making some adjustments and if you do so, the users of the market research won’t get any value from it. Therefore, you have to pay close attention to this stage because it is as crucial as the first one. There is no need to get everything right and then fail at the reporting stage.
A Few Points About Analysis and Reporting
Reporting is basically interpreting the data that you have gathered. As you do this, look more at the trends and not the specific information pieces. When analyzing the data, you should not try to get patterns based on the previous assumptions you had before going to the field to collect data.
It is still right even if you discover that your hypothesis was wrong. What you will just do is to accept the alternative hypothesis. After all, this is one of the key roles of any research process. You have to make sure that you are reporting in an objective manner. It tells you why you need to test and stop going with the assumptions.
It is a stage where beginners in marketing research make mistakes. Remember it is not about you but your target audience. There is no need to twist the results to show everyone that you have been right all along yet you were not. Such an approach will not lead to any helpful outcome for your business.
Therefore, market research is a continuous process. The more you know your company, industry, and buyer personas, the more success you will get in your marketing efforts. These marketing research process 5 steps will be of great help to you. If you were wondering which of the following is the first step in the marketing research process? You now have a perfect answer. The most important thing is to remain objective throughout the process.