As the reverberations of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to impact businesses big and small, many organizations are looking for ways to tighten their marketing and communications budgets. While research projects intended to support or track progress of key company efforts are often the victim of these cost cutting measures, these strategies can often pay for themselves a few times over when executed properly. Below are three key reasons to invest in marketing and communications research, even during challenging times.
1. To Know Where You Stand
If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that customer behavior and habits – even long held ones – can change in the blink of an eye. These shifts create changes in perceptions, shared values and brand loyalty that can make or break communication efforts. Conducting research among your key audiences or stakeholders will help teams understand customer demands, assess audiences’ current perceptions of their organization or products, or determine how to reinforce strengths or side-step potential issues.
2. Ensure Your Work Will Resonate
When approaching major organizational milestones – such as a merger, new product launch campaign or a company rebranding – testing key elements with priority audiences can provide valuable feedback to help teams fine tune their approach. Whether testing key messages, new logos or campaign themes, getting insight before a launch can give companies the ability to avoid major pitfalls and maximize their investment in the resulting campaign.
3. Show ROI
Ah – the age-old question – what’s the return on investment (ROI)? While PR and marketing folks often rely on measuring outputs (impressions, secured placements, key partnerships, etc.), research can help teams connect the dots between their work and the perceptions and behaviors that drive business objectives. Conducting research to gauge shifts in brand awareness, perceptions or share of voice can help measure how PR and marketing efforts “grease the skids” for traditional objectives, such as foot traffic and sales.
While budget often drives decision making, research doesn’t always need to be executed through a five-figure, quantitative approach. Often, more cost-effective solutions exist, such as one-on-one qualitative interviews with key stakeholders, electronic surveys of existing or potential customers, or informal focus groups. While not statistically relevant, these methods can uncover common themes even among the smallest groups, leading to actionable insights.
In short, research is about being strategic and using information to make informed decisions that can maximize the impact of our efforts.
And that’s worth investing in, isn’t it?
NST helps define, execute and analyze a variety of research inputs to help inform client initiatives. Give us a ring to talk through a variety of research options that can help positively impact your business objectives.