I just finished reading an interesting new book (actually, new because its an updated 2009 version) about marketing research. The book is called More Guerrilla Marketing Research: Asking the Right People, the Right Questions, the Right Way, and Effectively Using the Answers to Make More Money by Robert J. Kaden, Gerald Linda, and Jay Conrad Levinson. Someone at Stray Dog Media sent me a free review copy, which was good of them (there.. my FTC disclosure guidelines have been satisfied). In sum, the book is a nice, succinct set of ideas and guideline for managers who want to understand why and how to employ marketing research, and how to understand it.
Most of the book covers the fundamentals of marketing research. Budgets, Research professionals. Research plans. Focus groups. Surveys. Questionnaires. Sampling. Applying the results of research into marketing practice.
It is a good, solid book for practitioners, particularly those in smaller ands medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that dont have much exposure or understanding of marketing research. It explains very well why and how marketing research is vital for understanding, testing, and growing a business.
However, the book is quite weak when it comes to qualitative techniques beyond the old-style focus group, or explanation of newer techniques. Ethnography? It is not even mentioned. Depth interviews? Nope. Netnography? Are you kidding? They do mention data mining however, in a fairly cursory and introductory fashion. I was expecting a bit more innovation and forward-thinking from the “guerrilla” part of the marketing research. But the book is pretty old school and established. There’s not much surprising or new, or which challenges the marketing research status quo.
The part that I found most interesting, and which got me thinking the most, was the final chapter of the book, which they called The Future of Marketing Research. On p. 327, they quote the interestingly named Doug User (the perfect guy, it would seem, to conduct User Research) who is a Ph.D. and a senior VP with Widmeyer Research & Polling, who talks about how the fragmentation of consumer makes it hard to find and understand target audiences using traditional marketing research.
The answer according to the quote in the book is new metrics and new methods: video blogs, online portals, emotional measurement, data harvesting, analysis of comments in online forums, and private online communities.
This sounds like a bit of a techno-hodgepodge to me, but I think this is thinking that is moving in the right direction.
It started me wondering about the best and most informed usage and combination of newer methods for tracking market changes, diagnosing marketing problems, identifying opportunities, and staying on top of brand positioning challenges.
How might we think about mixing and matching social media marketing research and other marketing research techniques such as:
- Data mining such as social media and blog monitoring
- Engineered or managed online brand communities
- Social networked brand response groups
- Online panels
- Online focus groups
- Online surveys
- Crowdsourced information-providing contests
- Brand wikis
- Neurological and physiological scans (yikes! how did that get in there?)
How are these techniques similar, and how are they different? Where and with whom are each of them more effective, or less effective? How can they be combined for maximum effectiveness and minimum cost (i.e., for real efficiency)? How can they be used along with traditional techniques to maximize the delivery of time-sensitive information to where it is nedded for maximum impact?
Taking these ideas even further….When will marketing research become indistinguishable from or inextricably linked with marketing itself? When will both of these actions become interlinked with management itself (i.e., instead of managing sales figures, and motivating a sales force, managers would also need to manage brand mention and opinion figures, and motivate a word-of-mouth consumer force)? Where would those boundaries be? Where would research end? Who would perform this new blend of research, marketing, and motivational management? How would this Social Marketing Research interface with the company management, and with Enterprise 2.0?
I postulate here that some of the most successful managers of the coming decade will find their unique competitive advantages in the living, breathing, insight-laden answers to marketing/research questions such as these.