There are all sorts of reasons to tackle a marketing research project. You could be releasing a new product. You might be testing an advertising campaign. Perhaps you need to figure out how to go to market in a new country. Likely, you’re facing internal pressure to “Get results.” “Show us the way!” Or, quite simply, “Figure it out.”
Your knee-jerk reaction might be to do a little marketing research yourself. You know, send out some surveys, set up some meetings with the products team, or maybe even do a competitive audit.
Stop. Right. There.
Let’s have a frank discussion about why it’s not a good (or great) idea to do comprehensive marketing research by anyone, or by any department, employed by your company.
Reason #1: Bias. It’s a four-letter word
Companies are often a microcosm of the Senate floor in D.C.: There are sides. Debates. Issues. Alliances. Any well-functioning, normal company, once it reaches a certain size, is going to have its politics. It’s inevitable – companies are run by humans, and humans have opinions. When a team within a company offers to do marketing research (which, if it’s comprehensive, will include internal and external data collection), they will simply know too much to not have bias. Often, this bias is subconscious, but it’s there. When you’re immersed in a company culture, you see things a certain way, or you have an explanation for why things run the way they do.
In research, bias can skew results, even from well-meaning individuals. And, even when an employee or team does an outstanding, unbiased job, they’re likely to be viewed as biased, particularly if their findings are unpopular.
We’ve seen it play out time and time again. Bias is a minefield. Run far and fast from internally conducted research and find a third-party company to do the dirty work.
Reason #2: Objectivity. Need we say more?
Hand-in-hand with bias is the issue of objectivity versus subjectivity. When you conduct marketing research internally, you are bringing your years of company experience, loyalty (or dissatisfaction), and corporate myopia to the process. Internal research creates power-plays, as those who are conducting the research may suddenly exert influence over those whom they are interviewing or surveying, both within the company and outside of the company. Moreover, subjectivity plays into how internal employees may interview clients. For example, if you’re interviewing a client from an extremely important account, will you dodge questions that you may be willing to ask less lucrative clients? In the end, will this help your research report be more objective or more subjective?
Likely: Subjective. In the spirit of sound research, internal teams bring a subjective opinion, and ultimately, it won’t give your company the unbiased viewpoint that you’ll need to move forward effectively.
Reason #3: Resources, experience, and almighty Time
Marketing research, when done to produce maximally effective results, should include qualitative and quantitative data gathering. Numbers and interviews, in other words. Conducting qualitative research is super-time consuming (We make it look easy, we know. It’s not.). It involves research design, participant recruiting, surveying strategy, in-depth interviews with prospects, and finally, the coding and analysis to produce a comprehensive report. Often there is iteration and follow-up along the way. It requires consent and methodology. If quantitative research is tied in, a statistician is employed to effectively capture and analyze results.
Fortunately, you can hire this task out. Save your department hundreds of hours and instead look for a reputable firm that can efficiently, objectively look at your research problem, design a study, conduct the research, and deliver results. You’ll look like a genius for outsourcing the plan, especially when you see the results and are able to build your strategy around the findings.
Marketing research – oh, hey, that’s what we do!
Okay, so in the spirit of full disclosure, we here are a marketing research firm, specializing in qualitative and quantitative research. We formed our agency because we saw businesses struggle, consistently, because they weren’t able to look at themselves or their customers objectively. Often, their issues were obvious, but internal politics obscured the simple fix. InterQ was born to help companies break through the corporate myopia, and to give companies full, un-biased access to customer opinions.
It’s our joy to help companies succeed, and we are wholeheartedly committed to sound, cutting-edge research techniques that will take your company to the next level.