My previous post “Marketing Research Mindset: Stop Debating Social” was about the opportunity that Social Networks presents to the corporate marketing research function. Here are some further thoughts on moving forward.
Marketing Research professionals who look past the ‘research’ shortcomings of social media monitoring, see the wealth of organic, continuous streaming of customer conversation on the web. This view is echoed by the ARF – Advertising Research Foundation in their most recent publication The Listening Playbook. This new breed of research professionals is reinforcing its position as the Voice of the Customer within their organization (or their client’s domain). They are also the small minority that organizations are turning to for help in solving complex business challenges brought about by the Social Web.
Marketing Research should be the ‘go to’ place to sense the marketplace and be the primary source for social network guidance. Consider the following:
The Voice of the Customer (VOC): Consumer research is, in part, about understanding wants and needs, whether explicit or implicit. The best methods afford the enterprise a window to see many possible futures rather than the world as viewed through a rear-view mirror. VOC input also enables strategic planning in the broadest context and tactical business process improvement at the transactional levels of the organization.
Analytical Rigor: Those who do it right and avoid analytical rigor mortis bring an objective view to the decision-making process. Marketing Research sits at the table as a key input that is fact-based and provides insight into the risk and potential rewards of business decisions. Like the accounting function, Marketing Research employs its own version of GAAP that can both replicated and audited for accuracy. Unlike accounting, Marketing Research has the added benefit of providing a qualitative perspective that can be applied to innovation.
Business is filled with risk: As in golf, business is ‘a game of mistakes’, risks and rewards. As some like to ask, “With all of that marketing research, why do so many new products fail?” One might also wonder then why do so many advertising and public relations campaigns miss the mark, M&A deals go awry, startups fail, product quality glitches occur, costs are overun, brands lose market share and so on. As one venture capitalist recenty told me, success is often about timing and luck. We both agreed however, that data, research and insight help to manage the “known unknowns”.
Enter the Golden Age: The best thing about Marketing Research, as I see it, is that it knits together Customer Relationship Management and Social Media as a primary step of customer engagement. It is catalyst in unifying the enterprise and the customer through insight. CRM needs research to design the customer experience; Social Media, in proving its business utility, needs market research to make sense of the millions of consumer-generated comments that are posted every day about brands. Social Media and CRM are where Marketing Research insight is put into action. Similar links exist at the functional level with product development, media, advertising, sales, public relations, marketing and manufacturing.
In the new consumer world of social and mobile, has there ever been a better time for Marketing Research to be the new Corporate Trust Agent?
– Ted Morris, 4ScreensCRM