Date Added: February 2007Properly aligning your business objectives with the research of your in-the-trenches marketing people puts them in a position to be more than just number crunchers and data-sheet shufflers.
Too often, there is an explosion of data that senior-leaders are expected to absorb and understand, only to gain an insight into elements of customer information that may or may not be relevant to overall business objectives. For instance, in your B2B environment, consider one of your key objectives for the coming year is innovating a new product or service in a current locality and your marketing research team is occupied studying new geographic markets, an obvious disconnect.
Fortunately, there are simple steps to make sure your organization’s most valuable objectives will receive proper attention through the marketing process. If you have been diligent to this point and created a detailed marketing plan, you will have a clear link between marketing objectives and marketing research. If the marketing plan was created with the intent of creating revenue, as it should be, research will directly link to your organization’s bottom line.
If using a survey as a research method makes sense for your organization, consider capturing different levels of the relationship with your customers. For instance, research can be done on a transactional level – face to face with the customer; at the relationship level – customer loyalty; or at the brand identity level – customer perceptions. “Each survey provides its own insights and decision support to the marketing plan, but they are linked. With survey integration, quantify the improvements made at each level."1 Keep in mind, while looking at the surveys together, you may need to separate each in case there is a specific concern at one level.
Regarding brand image, an important measure is that of your customers and your employees. If customers have identified “great customer service” as a high priority and you have incorporated it into your marketing plan, you must have an understanding of employees definition of great customer service. This can be learned through proactively engaging employees on their opinions, similar to customer measurement. Interpreting these results and identifying the gaps between employee and customer perceptions provide valuable information for training and development at the transactional, relationship and brand levels.
Beyond customers and employees, other key stakeholders will take comfort in being engaged in the process. Staying grounded with senior leadership fosters an understanding between them and research touchpoints, further aligning main objectives and research.
Measuring performance may indicate success in a number of different areas, and these measurements should be utilized as indicators for success in more important objectives. For instance, if a particular product or service is plummeting in revenue consider if the research budget is aligned with your organization’s future with that line. With an effective scorecard these can be tracked over time to ensure positive correlations and alignment. If market share and growth are consistently increasing, yet profits are down or even stagnant, this may be an indicator the organization is not capitalizing on its research.
Research done correctly grants senior leaders a concise information source to drive effective decision making for future strategies. Do it right, make it simple, and it will save both the researcher and the leader a lot of time and money.