The Strategic Planning Advantage of Marketing Research
The essence of strategic planning revolves around really knowing your customers’ desires and needs in a way that guides your long term strategies so they are ahead of the curve of what others in your niche are doing. In other words, by researching your target market deeply enough, you’ll gain sufficient understanding of your consumers to let you make a business strategy plan which effectively sustains your company brand so that it appears to be a cut above what others in your market are offering.
As this highly detailed ebook from the people at insightsinmarketing.com explains very carefully, all strategic planning involves squaring long term business and market goals with a heavy load of careful research of market conditions, consumer behavior, best exposure mediums (social, online ads, content creation etc.) and overall trends in your market.
At the core of this probing information gathering strategy lies the need to know your customers intimately not just as consumers but also as people in a more integral sense. Thus, for the sake of really effective strategic planning, you need to work on really profound target market understanding.
Knowing your Customers Deeply
What do we mean by understanding your target market? Well, we’re not just talking about knowing how old they are and how much they spend. Instead, any information at all about them that you can gather might be potentially useful in creating a long term strategic marketing plan that anticipates their needs and desires in advance of others in your niche (the holy grail of all business participation in the market)
Useful examples of characteristics you should work at knowing include:
- Customer habits
- Professional information, marital and family status
- Interests, affiliations and personal passions
- Communications and media consumption preferences
- Information gleaned from surveys, communication mediums and online forums (social media, blog commenting)
- Advertising awareness and ad viewing habits
- Their purchasing dynamics
As you can see, the more information about your customers you have, the better because the more chances it will give you to figure out a marketing strategy that plays directly into their emotional triggers, deeper desires and unfulfilled wants
We’ve talked about how major brands play into emerging trends by understanding at least some of the above customer qualities, and this is something you need to play into as well, as far ahead of your competitors as possible. In the example linked right above here, we see how major retailers begin to understand that their customers are increasingly concerned about keeping their food choices healthy and deeply informed. So in response, the retailers began to create an image as themselves as open, honest and concerned providers of food that’s not only guaranteed to be as naturally clean as possible but also ethically produced.
In other words, these retailers are trying to brand themselves as “food heroes” to their audience and in response they’re triggering an emotional response that gains sales. While this may sound a bit manipulative, it is also the essential result of effective market research and consumer understanding. Furthermore, knowing your customers deeply ultimately benefits them equally; your knowledge of them allows you to give them far more unique and personally tailored offers.
Avoiding the Reactiveness Trap and Staying Ahead of your Competitors
The re-activeness trap is a dangerous place to fall into, it means that your business is reacting to the environment around it instead of leading in the brand marketing game. Being highly reactive causes the margins of time and resources in which you operate in response to an ever shifting market to be dangerously thin.
Instead of foreseeing consumer needs and desires well enough in advance to really prepare for them and deliver a powerful branding message that creates sales and customer loyalty, your company will be struggling to catch up and capture market share from others who have already arrived with their message and customer understanding ahead of you.
By following a strategic marketing plan that relies on deep, thorough research into your consumer market needs, competitor activity and the triggers that make your potential customers respond, you can avoid being reactive and start turning your business into an agile performer in terms of strategic planning.