My Marketing Thing

Market testing your promotional concept

Survey for market research

The last post about briefing your logo designer prompted a great comment.  It was actually more of a query:

How do you know that your logo is going to appeal to your target market?  

The short answer to this question is: test it on them.

Now, there is testing and there is testing.  You need objective feedback from those who are likely to buy your service or product. But how do you go about getting this objective feedback about your new logo – or any marketing concept?


Hire a market research agency

You can consider enlisting the help of a market research agency to carry out an investigation on your behalf through surveys and/or focus groups.  The two main areas of market research are: qualitative (why?) and quantitative (how many?).

If you have a few thousand up your sleeve, then it might be worth getting a quote (or two) from these guys.  Depending on your situation, it could be the best business investment you’ve ever made for your business.

But if you’re not flush enough for this service (and many in small business aren’t), there are other things you can do.

Let’s take a look at some popular common approaches and whether they are useful:

Asking your family

My clients love to test any marketing concept on their family.  Whether it is a business name, logo design or campaign premise, the spouse and little Jimmy seem to always get their two cents.

Your family are people that already love you and accept you. It’s natural to want to involve them.  But don’t do it.   For a start, your family probably isn’t your target market.   And even if they are, how can they possibly be objective?


Asking people in your office

This is something that a graphic designer I know does on a regular basis as a way of testing her designs.  In my view, this approach could be more misleading than informing.
While her colleagues might have experience in marketing (and not all of the do), most of the time they are not the target market.  So what they ‘like’ or ‘don’t like’ doesn’t actually count.
It is a good idea, however, to show a concept to your sales team to get their feedback. Chances are, they know a lot about your target market and can give some informed pointers.  But that isn’t where the final decision should rest.


Asking your existing customers

This the next thing my clients do.  The idea of asking clients you know really well for their feedback is appealing because, like asking your family, it’s not a great imposition.  These are people that have accepted you and wouldn’t mind the request.

While we are now in the realm of ‘target market’ the problem with this approach is that they already know what you are selling.  It is harder for existing clients to pick up on any possible misconceptions.  They will find it difficult to be objective.

Like with your sales team, by all means get feedback from them.  But don’t stop there.


Asking people on the street

My father used to be an executive copywriter for a number of multinational advertising agencies.  While big budgets were allocated to many of his projects, this didn’t stop him from going down the end of the street with a clipboard and asking 10 people (in the realm of the target market) three key questions about the product he was working to promote.

He crafted the questions to ensure that he would not just get a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ answer. Those approached had to explain why they felt the way they did.

At times my father compared the results of this approach with those derived from a market research company.  More often than not the ratio results were the same.

But your target market might be hard to nab on the street, so be conscious of that limitation.  If your target audience has a broad demographic (both genders and/or large age bracket and/or wide ranging income levels), this way of market testing could be just the thing.

Asking those you know are potential clients

This is a cracker if you can pull it off.  Is there a positive way to survey those in your target market who are currently buying from your competition?  You are bound to get some interesting data.  However, approach this option with care.

If the person feels imposed upon by your survey-waving, then the exercise can backfire badly.  You have lost a potential client before you have even started selling to them.  And if they tell other people about their negative experience then you may have lost many potential clients.

So the ideal is to find ten people who fit your target market profile (that don’t know you well – yet) who are willing to give feedback beyond ‘yes’ and ‘no’.

This can sometimes be safely achieved through currently loyal clients who know people just like them.  Again, approach with caution.  Your don’t want to spoil a good relationship with a current client.

In this world of increasing anonymity, people like to give their opinion.  But if it’s a ten page survey that is going to take them half a day – with no direct reward – their desire to contribute is likely to fade.

So keep the testing short, make it fun and give those interviewed a reward for participating.


Next post… will find out how even the biggest companies in the world can make HUGE mistakes when it comes to market testing.

This post was written by Megan Hills.  Megan is a writer, cartoonist and marketing cha cha performer.  She’s also very nosey about what other people think and feel about things. Find out more about Megan.

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Posted on Feb 13th, 2010 Market research  ,  ,

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