In an age of computerized data gathered at awesome speed there is no problem with the quantity of information available to us. The problem is the opposite or analysis paralysis, not acting on what the data tells us.
Before authorizing research decide on actions to be taken based on possible results. If the answer is none or for curiosity sake don’t waste the effort in any way, shape or form.
By using collected data from one of my best selling products and the insight gleaned from actual customers I learned to create future products that sell. This is gathering perspectives from qualitative and quantitative research and then acting upon that knowledge.
Don’t rely on likes or favorited items to make decisions that are costly in time or money, use them as insights that lead to an actual quantification process. If people like something but few buy be determined to discover why it doesn’t translate in to action. Is it price, your copy, your keywords, lack of a call to action or the actual product or presentation itself? Maybe it is just not placed in the right market. These are just a few suggestions to help you quantify the answer with hard data so you can pivot or simply reject if need be. Many brands have simply continued to beat a dead horse to their peril, learn from their mistakes. Quantification can lead to delight if you are willing to learn from and act upon it.
From Data To Decisions
The key is knowing how to turn data in to decisions. The essence of the key is to recognize and use actionable research.
Do your findings lead to action or to just filling Power Point slides or sharing on social media?
Can you make the leap from raw data to real insight?
Can you learn how to use your brand assets more creatively?
If not save your time and research money.
Don't Focus On Focus Groups
The ongoing fascination with focus groups and neglect of quantitative research can have unfortunate side effects. Some marketing approaches suffer because they broke the first rule; trying to project quantitative results from qualitative research or ‘that’s what the focus group said’ syndrome. The vast number of product offerings or trying to be all things to all people is monument to this kind of wishful thinking.
Qualitative Research is exploratory research. It is used to gain an understanding of underlying reasons, opinions, and motivations. It provides insights into the problem and helps to develop ideas or hypotheses for potential quantitative research. Some common methods include focus groups (group discussions), individual interviews, and participation/observations.
Quantitative Research is used to quantify the problem by way of generating numerical data or data that can be transformed into usable statistics. It is used to quantify attitudes, opinions, behaviors, and other defined variables and generalize results from a larger sample population. Quantitative data collection methods include various forms of surveys – online surveys, paper surveys, mobile surveys and kiosk surveys, face-to-face interviews, telephone interviews, longitudinal studies, website interceptors, online polls, and systematic observations.
If a show of hands in a focus group is being used for actionable research find another marketer. Followers or fans also don’t count as quantitative research.
For quantitative research learn key metrics and what constitutes an actual success rate that will insure results.
Don’t rely on your fans, followers, friends or the group that you have assembled with free giveaways for an ‘honest’ review. That is like asking your mother if you are talented. Use this info light heartedly to explore a hypothesis for quantifying but never use it to confirm anything, let alone act upon it. You most likely will be pulled in to a scattered decision making process and wasting resources while pleasing no one. You want hard data from those who made an effort to buy and then use your products and come back for more. Be especially alert for those who recommend your product or service to others and find out why. Learn what an average conversion rate is and strive to reach it or go beyond it. Learn why your customers are loyal and build upon that success. Learn what attracted them in the first place. Most importantly quantify that hard data and find new and creative ways to exploit it.
A valuable approach is to act as if an alien visitor arrived forcing you to question every assumption, all research, and any comfortable ritual. If your research is aging or missing or it has been awhile since your assumptions were challenged it is time to restate all of your questions and question all of your answers.
When assessing your brand acuity for actionable research subtract points for wasting time and money on useless research, for example relying on your fan base that doesn’t convert to any action or those who just showed up for the free giveaway. Give yourself zero points for no research. Give yourself high marks for knowing how to gain insight from both Qualitative and Quantitative Data and acting upon it creatively and consistently.
Challenge your beliefs about your products or services. An empirical assessment can lead to great insight and help you to overcome lagging sales or a tired brand image. Never blame the market or the customer but learn your key strengths, main mission and core identifiers and use them repeatedly. Facts instead of feelings lead to confidence, consistency and results that last. Most importantly act upon these facts and watch your brand grow.