Sometimes successful branding or marketing communications campaigns can get off track when guided by a group of well-intentioned and knowledgeable stakeholders who don’t share a common vision.
A key (and often missing) ingredient for these efforts is a true understanding of an organization’s current market position through audience perception research. This kind of unbiased information can unify the direction of a campaign, bringing people with disparate views together.
Although internal stakeholders often have strong ideas about what their audiences think of them, nothing replaces primary research for a true understanding. Hiring a major research firm to conduct a comprehensive study is one great option to get answers, but many organizations need information sooner and at a lower price point than some research-only firms can provide.
If you’re looking for quick insights to inform a branding initiative or other marketing communications effort, you may want to consider a smart-but-smaller research project, such as:
- Online surveys
- Phone surveys
- Focus groups
This tool gathers straightforward information from large groups of people. Questions can be multiple choice, short answer or ratings based (such as 1 – 5). This online tool works best with audiences that are email oriented and comfortable navigating the Internet. Open-ended responses aren’t usually a good fit for online surveys of large groups, as they are difficult to aggregate and analyze. Many low-cost tools exist to conduct online surveys, including the popular Survey Monkey and Zoomerang products.
A survey format can also be effective when delivered via phone. This tool works best when you want to sample a large audience but don’t have email contact info, don’t think the audience is particularly Internet savvy or if the audience may be reluctant or simply less likely to participate. This tool allows respondents to be more passive because the survey comes right to them via a real person. They aren’t required to do anything to find the survey. Just as online surveys tend to skew to younger audiences, keep in mind that phone survey respondents tend to be older. If you’d like to conduct a phone survey, groups such as Triton Polling offer experienced phone facilitators.
Getting a small group of people together around a table to talk about your organization, or specific issues of interest to your organization, leads to in-depth conversations that just can’t happen with a survey. This type of inquiry is referred to as qualitative research (as opposed to quantitative research) because it gathers in-depth understanding from smaller samples and on more focused topics than what is typically covered in a survey format. Descriptive responses to open-ended questions are the results here. Focus group responses can’t automatically be attributed to larger groups, but can provide more specific insights than short-answer surveys. Facilitating a focus group requires the ability to deftly redirect the conversation to cover the right territory.
This primary research complements other audit activities such as in-depth interviews with key stakeholders, reviewing existing marketing communications materials and scanning the competitive landscape for an organization.
The results? A more-informed stakeholder group and a distinctive campaign that resonates with your organization’s key audiences.