Marketing research

How to approach marketing research – May 2022

By Paul Friederichsen

For flooring manufacturers and retailers, searching by category is definitely useful for gaining valuable strategic insights against your competitors. In fact, you should congratulate yourself right now because, unlike some of your colleagues, you care about knowing the numbers that are critical to your brand’s success.

Even so, as a flooring marketer, statistics don’t tell you everything you need to know about what you’re doing well or not doing well in marketing your brand. If the goal of every business is to “get a customer,” as Peter Drucker once observed, then how does that hold up for you? Retaining and gaining new customers is the “personal” part of the four Ps of marketing and is essential to brand growth. Research – along with the timely collection, review and analysis of your marketing data efforts – should, over time, provide a strategic roadmap to this end.

Companies large and small in the flooring industry often rely solely on sales data and market share as key indicators of what they are doing right or wrong when it comes to marketing. The proof, according to management, is in the pudding. The reality is that the market, like the universe, is constantly changing. So, in essence, you’re navigating an obstacle course by looking only in the rearview mirror. And there are errors in this approach. For example, improving your performance in terms of market share might be influenced more by how your competitor got it wrong than where you did it right. And if your sales performance is disappointing, you may think the only answer is to increase your marketing budget. Not necessarily.

Profitability is always the raison d’être of marketing research. In fact, the quest for the holy grail in marketing statistics dates back to John Wannamaker’s famous quip: “Half my ad spend is wasted; the problem is that I don’t know which half. For 200 years, marketers have been trying to figure this one out. First, there were the newspaper circulation numbers (back when there were newspapers). Nielsen gave us real paper newspapers to measure audience which translated into ratings and audience share which determined the cost and value of advertising. All of these methods were historical data collection methods. When the Internet was born in the early 1980s, more data was available to sift through to try and gauge performance.

However, more than 40 years later, every marketer, from moms and pops to corporate giants, is being inundated with data thanks to digital technology. Whether it’s leading industry and business news publications or your own media monitoring and platform reporting, we all find ourselves in the midst of a marketer’s paradox: we we all have more information and data points at our disposal than in the entire history of marketing, and yet many of us feel too time-strapped to take full advantage of it. And unless you have the proper training, it’s problematic. Pam Danziger, a researcher and author of several marketing books, lamented, “People really don’t know how to interpret ‘numbers’. It’s too easy to get lost in the trees (i.e. the details) and miss the forest (i.e. the big picture).

We can all agree that without a certain amount of in-depth research and adherence to performance metrics – be it media spend selections, reach size, or click-through rates, to name a few a few – we fly blind. Qualitative research (focus groups and interviews) and quantitative research (surveys and polls) are also valuable decision-making tools that shape marketing direction. The trick is knowing how you, as a marketer, approach search to get the most out of it. Here are some tips to help you in this regard.

• Check your biases at the door. It is a cardinal sin that we are all prone to commit. As Danziger advised, “There is the pervasive danger posed by cognitive biases, such as confirmation bias that overrides anything that is not in line with one’s own belief or anchoring bias where we are most influenced by the first news we hear.” I’ve seen this happen with clients while watching from behind a one way focus group mirror Remember that it’s not because a member of a focus group says something with which you agree that this is necessarily so at the macro level.

• Maintain a personal knowledge of your market. I once asked my media partner to do a Kantar report on a set of flooring companies to gauge their actual levels of advertising spend. If I hadn’t been personally familiar with the level of advertising frequency that I had witnessed myself, I wouldn’t have known that this particular report was inaccurate. There is no substitute for knowledge in and of the field, and always look at the data with a critical eye.

• Be disciplined in your research review. Build some quality time into your schedule to review your Google Analytics report, social media dashboards, and other reports available to you. If you are responsible for the marketing strategy or the budget, you owe it to yourself and your brand to know them yourself. If you’re responsible for reporting findings up the ladder or to a client, do so monthly.

• Understand terminology. For example, what you think “bounce rate” means may or may not be correct. By glossing over terms like these without a full understanding, you risk missing the nuance of the information you’re paying for. And don’t assume anyone else looking at the data understands it either.

• Look for cause and effect. The marketing statistics you are looking at were certainly not created in a vacuum. There are always factors that come into play that you may or may not have control over. Replicate the good ones by learning from the circumstances that contributed to them. For example, if a webinar increased traffic to your site or blog, write it down and congratulate the team.

• Break out of the traditional demographic framework. To create more customers, we’ve all been trained to clearly define the demographics (statistics of a group of people) and psychographics (their attitudes and aspirations) of the ideal customer for our brand. In his article “5 Concepts for Actual Segmentation”, Steve Wunker explains in Branding Strategy Insider that buying behavior is not “guaranteed” because people belong to a demographic group or conform to an archetypal personality. In the world of flooring, it’s better to segment by following the customer journey to complete a project. Wunker observed: “At the end of the day, people buy a Land Rover instead of a comparably priced Tahoe because of what they are looking to achieve (both functionally and emotionally), not because they belong to a certain demographic group.”

• Look for what doesn’t make sense. Derrick Daye of The Blake Project, a leading brand consultancy, reminds us that when researching a marketing problem, “don’t look to what you understand. What you need to do is set a course for what really doesn’t make sense. Just as the Allied bombers of World War II were not made less vulnerable to attack by putting extra armor where the bullet holes were, the extra armor was placed where the bullet holes weren’t. not.

• Find out why you are being ignored. Almost all marketing statistics are collected from customers or prospects who have already purchased or engaged with the brand. But what about those who have done neither? Consider this advice from Danziger: “Companies are focusing on ‘big data’ (data derived from their internal systems about their customers). Analyzing this data is valuable, but says nothing about potential customers passing by your store or not engaging. Companies that refrain from collecting information from potential customers do so at risk. »

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