Learn What Insights You Can Get Today For Next Year And Why You Need Them
Many organizations receive the “Use it or lose it” message from the finance department on unspent budgets at the end of the year. Often, the unused budget returned to the company will also factor into a lower budget allocation the following year. This exercise creates a scramble to either complete funded projects or find other ways to use the unused budget to ensure next year does not start with a lower amount. A good investment and a way to get ahead for next year is to conduct different market research efforts before the end of the year.
Conducting market research before year-end will give departments the insights needed to have a more informed next-year strategy. Market research will data to the opportunities to improve specific areas about their brand, customers, and products. And because market research can be conducted across all areas of a business, the opportunity to reduce knowledge gaps can be achieved before next year when planning is done.
To help identify how best to conduct market research at the end of the year, here are five market research projects that every business can invest in before the calendar runs out. All can be launched and completed with minimal turnaround time and, most importantly, deliver valuable, strategy-supporting insights.
Concept testing – Start learning what audiences like about next year’s products or services
By putting your concept in front of target audiences before launch, critical learnings in what attributes make the product attractive for purchase and find the weaknesses in the concept where adjustments might improve the overall reception of the concept. Because concept testing can include many different aspects from colors, feature sets, and packaging, the opportunity to test multiple variants of the concept before launch can help position a concept for success starting day one.
Why now? Get insights to guide next year’s product introductions. Get initial feedback or last-minute guidance on features or packaging.
How soon? Concept tests can deliver insights in as fast as seven days from start to finish. Iterating on the concept with additional testing pulses, the concept can undergo several rounds of insights before the end of the year.
Message testing – Refine your outbound marketing and advertising to be more effective
Content and communications campaigns to educate and inform customers can improve how a message is received by an intended audience with market research. Testing key messaging and themes in different content pieces can ensure that a brand remains consistent across all segments and audiences. Market research on messaging can also bring forward sentiments and underlying motivations the audience has on a given message which can validate the expected outcomes of the messaging.
Why now? Ensure the Q1 campaigns to customers are persuasive and promote wanted activities. Having confidence that the message is correct will help free up time to work on the distribution and promotion of the message.
How soon? Like concept testing, message testing can have a quick turnaround and include different research approaches like a TURF Analysis, Perceptometer, and MaxDiff to help distill the impact and effectiveness of the messaging. These approaches can be applied and provide insights in as quickly as ten days from start to finish.
Insight Calibration - Organize, refine and find unknown insights you already have from completed research.
Already completed research may have underlying insights or learnings that were not considered when the project was first concluded. By revisiting existing research to extract new insights, raw data from previous research projects can be combined and reviewed with updated approaches to glean new information applicable to upcoming strategic efforts. Doing insight calibration on existing research will save you from running research to find already available insights.
Why now? Take a moment to review and organize the existing research. By refreshing the data at hand, you can develop a better understanding of what research and insights are missing from your strategic planning moving forward.
How soon? Within two weeks, you can have legacy research and data reviewed and reset to obtain potentially untapped insights without needing a new research project.
Qualitative Research - Reduce the knowledge gap in critical areas
Market Research offers the path towards making data-supported decisions about a business. Applying a qualitative market research survey on ongoing issues or possibly an emerging theme in customer feedback that can not be easily answered will help a company obtain the insights required to eliminate the knowledge gap. Because qualitative research is very specific and might only need a small group of customers, the opportunity to quickly resolve unknowns can be a powerful tool in strategy development.
Why now? Use the time to answer those questions that have been asked (and never answered) in the meetings this year. Confirm assumptions with supportive data so it can be part of the strategy. Take the time to review strategy documents and customer feedback to find insight gaps.
How soon? Addressing a specific issue might take several days, while a deeper or more comprehensive approach to the root of a wider issue could require several weeks. When using text science on open text responses or even audio and video responses, the insights can include many different areas of opportunity and provide a deeper understanding of the drivers and motivations of the audience that quantitative research may not uncover.
Brand Tracking - Begin harnessing your brand equity
One of the largest investments an organization can make is around the brand. Everything from the colors and logo of a brand down to the internal ethos and mission statement will create a reaction from customers. More importantly, how your brand compares to your competition will influence the decision process of both new and existing customers. Without formal brand tracking, this investment is untapped into what you need to promote more as your strengths and what areas you can focus to compete better.
Why now? To evaluate where and how your target audiences engage and recognize your brand can begin at any time. At the close of a year, an organization can have the start of a benchmark to carry into the new year. This can prepare for any upcoming events and brand changes forecasted so the change (both positive and negative) is realized and quantified.
How soon? A typical brand tracking project is done as a monthly or quarterly study so marketing and advertising campaigns are captured. Conducting a tracking study before the end of the current year will typically require at least several weeks to prepare the study and frame the needed research tools, such as a Perceptometer℠ that can gauge your brand's advertising. To learn more about brand tracking, you can read more here.
Market Research completed today instead of tomorrow
Benjamin Franklin is credited with saying, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today,” and is very appropriate when thinking about market research projects. The end of the year, when budgets might have available funds to be used, investing in market research projects is wise. Additionally, having the market research completed before the end of the year can potentially eliminate a cost next year that would require approval amongst competing investments and can provide insights that will influence decisions beyond the upcoming year.