Market research, when done right, can do a lot: whether it’s identifying demand for a new product or service, projecting possible revenue, predicting the future market landscape or helping you uncover ways to improve, smart market research is a powerful way to create a successful roadmap for your community’s future.
“There comes a time, though, to recognize that you’ve done all you can through market research, and now need to take what you learned and put it to work,” says Malissa Illiano, Senior Consultant & Director of Market Research at SageAge Strategies. “Having the knowledge is the important – even crucial – first step. But all that knowledge won’t do much for you if you don’t put what you learned into action.”
Whether you are trying to launch an entirely new community in a brand new location or are aiming to improve upon an existing product or service at your community, distilling the information you’ve gathered via the market research phase is the next logical step in your progression. Today, we’ll examine how to take what you learned through your market research and turn it into actionable, implementable strategy. First, though, let’s review the two main kinds of market research and what you can learn from them.
In-Market or Primary Research
In-market research, or field research, requires more leg work because it gathers the information you are looking for directly rather than through secondhand sources. It can include:
- Direct observation
- Conversations and interviews with current and prospective clients
- Surveys, both in person and online
- Focus groups
Desktop Research or Secondary Research
Also known as secondary research, desktop research involves gathering existing information from secondary sources that is already available. This can include:
- Information found on the internet
- Existing market research
- Demographic and geographic information
- Governmental or university studies
- Information from local agencies, libraries, and more
Putting Your Research to Work
Now that you have the information you set out to obtain, whether through primary research, secondary research, or a combination of both, you’re ready to put what you learned to work. Through your market research, you will have identified key strategic recommendations, which can include anything from the perfect name for your newest program offering, the best location for your new community, how to best position your new product or service and critical ways to make that product or service better. Whatever the strategic recommendations may be, it’s important to observe the following principles to be sure implementation goes smoothly.
- Confirm you have buy-in. If you and your market research partner firm did their jobs right, key stakeholders have been involved in this process from the beginning, and have been kept informed as the process progressed. That’s important, because it ensures everyone who will eventually be involved in the implementation of the final recommendations are on board with the plan. By providing everyone with clear information about what your market research determined and the recommendations being made as a result, you get buy-in.
- Make sure your goals are clear, achievable and specific. You have a slew of recommendations based on your market research, but have those been distilled down into actionable objectives? Be sure the marching orders are clear and feasible before moving forward. A vague goal means a vague outcome.
- Name one person the head of overseeing implementation. When it comes to driving such meaningful change, it’s important that a leader take the reins and guarantee things move forward. Having everyone on the same page is step one, but that’s not enough to ensure things move along steadily. A clear leader – preferably one with respect and authority among your team – will keep the ball rolling.
- Make sure your budget is in line. It’s no good to have a whole slew of strategic recommendations and no budget to implement them, and can in fact be quite demoralizing. So before you make a single change, review your short-term and long-term budgets to ensure you have the monetary support you need to make these recommendations a reality. Depending on what you find, you may need to perform some triage and choose only the recommendations you are able to implement right now.
- Divide and conquer. Having a leader doesn’t mean they do all the work; on the contrary, a good leader will identify well-functioning teams, or even “pods” within teams, that can work together as an independent unit to ensure each recommendation is moved forward. That doesn’t mean everyone works autonomously, though, which brings us to our final tip.
- Communicate, communicate and communicate. Making significant change requires significant effort. Making small change sometimes requires significant effort too! By having everyone on board from the beginning, you have set yourself up for success, but an unclear communication plan or fuzzy lines of communication will cause that buy-in to break down quickly.
It sounds like a lot of work, and sometimes it is, but it is worthwhile work that will position you to excel in your marketplace. It can also be a huge team booster and really unify a group as a cohesive unit, which sets you up for further success!
SageAge Strategies is a multiple award-winning, strategic growth and marketing organization that can provide market research expertise for your community. For more information, please call or email Malissa Illiano at 717-695-6740 / firstname.lastname@example.org.