Back in 2009, I wrote a piece for Marketing Donut, who offer advice to SME’s. The idea was to list the different questions that research can help you answer.
Just recently I found myself returning to the article, thanks to a prospective client who’d discovered it in Google’s basement.
See how well you think it’s stood up. A decade’s a long time in marketing.
TOP 20 QUESTIONS THAT RESEARCH COULD HELP YOU ANSWER
1. Who is currently buying your product or service?
2. What are these people’s lives like?
3. Why are other people not buying it?
4. Who would be interested in buying it in the future?
5. How many people like this are there?
6. What general trends are affecting these people’s lives at the moment?
7. Where would people buy your product or service from?
8. When, where and how would they use or consume it?
9. Why would they buy it? What need are they wanting to satisfy?
10. Who is your real competition?
11. What image do people have of your brand vs. your competition?
12. What would be the ideal image for your brand to have?
13. What do they think about the different aspects of your product or service (name, packaging, features, advertising, pricing…)?
14. What improvements could be made to your product or service to meet people’s needs even better?
15. What is the single most important benefit your brand should be seen to be offering - and why would people believe this to be true?
16. How can you best communicate that benefit to the people you’re interested in attracting?
17. What is the right price to charge?
18. What other new products or services could your brand offer people?
19. So what is your vision for your brand?
20. And what is your roadmap for getting there?
I think that's still pretty much OK, don’t you?
The order takes you from the beginning to end. From strategy to execution.
The language is pretty simple, which I always prefer. I’m not sure if people still talk about ‘roadmaps’. Jargon often has a short life if it has to be written strangely.
Speaking of which, there’s no mention of purpose, but this was pre- all of that. Simon Sinek’s ‘Start with Why’ was also published in 2009.
It does include vision and I like the fact that comes at the end. Research is so often about working out what really matters - and what doesn’t. So it’s often a case of “I can see clearly now the rain has gone”.
The communications-based ones have an old-school feel to them. What’s the benefit? What’s the reason to believe? How to get that across to people? These days you’d talk as much about engagement, about push versus pull or even interactive. But it’s still communication. You’re still finding a way to get your point across.
My favourite thing about the article, though, is that it’s a list of questions. That, I think, holds up extremely well. I’ve used this approach a lot when being briefed on research. What question are you really trying to answer?
As Einstein said: “If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I had the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.”