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Conducting Market Research

The Importance of Market Research

Brochures, tear sheets, business plans, marketing campaigns, direct mail, catalogs, reports and sales information sheets need to land in a writer's in-box first. Researching the product or service before writing is the most important step, and is often ignored. So, what information should be studied prior to writing?

- What are the features and technologies of the product or service?
- How do the features benefit the consumer and what's in it for them?
- What are the consumer advantages of using the product or service?
- What are the disadvantages and how does the manufacturer counter them?
- What is the product or service guarantee, such as repair and replacement guidelines?
- How does the product or service compete in the business market?

Understanding the product or service in-and-out is the first step. Next, who is the consumer, or target audience, of this product or service?

- What are the demographics, or external characteristics, of the target audience?
- What are the psychographics, or internal characteristics, of the target audience?
- What is the main concern to consumers about the product or service?
- What motivates the target audience to purchase the product or use the service?

Understanding the target audience on paper is one thing, but understanding how the target audience speaks, thinks and acts is another. Read the magazines the target audience subscribes to. Attend trade shows and review trade publications. Schedule a focus group, or request former transcripts. Writing for a target audience is very difficult without first conducting some research. There's a huge difference between "faster shopping," which is vague, and "faster shopping with more checkout lanes," which focuses on how shopping is easier. Focus on what the target audience needs and answer how.

To answer how, you must know the difference between features and benefits. Features are characteristics helping the consumer differentiate between products or services in the market. Benefits show the consumer how the product or service features meet their needs.

Consumers want to know how a product or service can make them happier, richer, smarter or fitter than the average consumer. In order to measure results, first review the main focus of the campaign. The focus determines whether the campaign generates sales or inquiries, answers questions, establishes brand recognition, revamps brand identity, introduces products or services, or changes concepts.