“To thine own self be true” advised Polonius in Act I, Scene III of Hamlet. The author, one William Shakespeare, intended this daily tip to convey a simple but important message – understand yourself and face the facts, no matter how unsettling. Once you’re clued in, the stage is set for proper action and necessary adjustments.
The Bard’s wisdom fits nicely into the realm of brand marketing, particularly in the market research sphere. Researchers universally extol the value of understanding the target audience. And well they should. But in many cases, these same investigators neglect the all-important process of self-understanding. Subsequent action, consequently, may be severely compromised.
Effective research requires an all-encompassing approach. Along with surveying prospects, brand marketers must query themselves and where their brand stands in the marketplace. Brutal honesty is imperative. The answers will reveal a high-definition picture of internal strengths and weaknesses – set in bold relief against marketplace realities. When all is done, you’ll know exactly how you stack up.
Being true to one’s marketing-self begins with this crucial question – What is the size of our target market? Many marketers fail to grasp the extent of their prospect population. Therefore, in many cases, campaigns either overshoot or undershoot. What should have been a broad reach turns out to be a feeble touch. In a nutshell, campaigns must scale to market size. Know those dimensions in advance.
What are the expected market changes? is another important question in the self-examination lineup. While few marketers stock crystal balls, thorough fact-gathering can lead to enlightened projections. Will the target market expand or contract in the coming years? How will new demographics reshape the environment? Answers to such questions provide a sound foundation for productive adaptation.
What about the competition? Shouldn’t something be known about them? You bet your budget! The worthy self-examining researcher will climb mountains to identify all known and (yet-to-be-known) competing entities. This investigative phase includes learning about similar products and services, as well as about the market shares of everyone concerned. Who’s got what? Then do the math. Subtract all the taken market shares from the available ones (if any). The remainder is yours to grab. Now you have a basis for a well-planned campaign.
If you have questions or comments about marketing research, or about any other brand-related topic, feel free to send them our way.