As we’ve all experienced at one point or another, especially during the holiday season, realizing you need something at the last minute is a major headache. What’s even worse is realizing you need something after it’s too late; at which point the scramble ensues to make due with what’s available and hope for the best.
Each year I host an annual family holiday party so between the new dietary trends and growing guest list there’s bound to be something I overlook. The lesson learned, year after year, is that the name of the game is planning with foresight. I may not always be as detailed as I want, but it’s a great feeling when I’m prepared for the unexpected.
I joke that sometimes these holiday stresses make running my business feel like a vacation, but they also remind me to focus on developing a solid 2019 strategy and budgeting plan for my company. I can deal with running out of figgy pudding, but miscalculating the resources needed to reach our sales goals is a much bigger deal.
This past year we noted a consistent theme across all the industries we serve; at some point in time, each of our clients and prospects found themselves at a crossroad where key questions needed answers so that important decisions could be made. Whether it was regarding product improvements, new services, or strengthening customer relationships, brands were unwilling to make guesses or rely on their perceptions. They needed data-driven insights to support decisions that would lead to action and results.
The good news – we were there to help with any market research and data analysis needed to achieve their goals.
The bad news – research and data projects weren’t feasible because their resources were often tied up in other initiatives that weren’t getting the job done.
In other words, they wanted and needed data to support their decision making but didn’t have the room in the budget for market research.
These brands found themselves in the difficult, undesirable position of having to scramble and make due with whatever was available and hope for the best. The reason was often that Market Research and Data Analysis were not set as priorities heading into 2018, so when the unexpected occurred and questions didn’t have answers the resources needed to seek answers were not available.
This is not a challenge we want you to face this year, and it’s definitely avoidable by following this one piece of advice – include Market Research in your 2019 budget.
You might be saying, “I agree with you! But it’s not up to me. I need buy-in from the bigwigs upstairs.”
Or, you might be saying, “I don’t agree with you. Data is important, but not THAT important.”
Whichever way you’re leaning, here are a few points to consider or share with decision makers that will help clarify the value of including Market Research and Data Analysis in your 2019 budget:
- Data helps everyone do everything better
Unless you have access to a magic crystal ball that can tell the future with absolute certainty (and if you do, please let me know), leveraging data analysis and statistics to guide decision making is the best way to improve performance and boost results.
Whether it’s Sales and Marketing, Customer Services, Human Resources, etc., every division within a company has its own goals and objectives. Tracking and measuring performance metrics offers direct insight into specific components of how the business operates and provides opportunities to make necessary adjustments on a granular level.
One set of data can be used across multiple departments simply by conducting different analytic strategies. So the entire team can benefit when a market research project is effectively planned and executed.
- Long-term benefits require long-term investment
Market Research and Data Analytics are best used as a foundation for building, rather than a crutch or temporary fix. As previously mentioned, when companies don’t budget for Market Research they typically have limited resources when it comes time to conduct a project or analyze existing data. This results in limited scope and scale of the project and reduces its overall benefit.
The value of market research and running data analysis is to support and enable decisions that will have a long-term, positive impact. As we see with many other things in life, long-term benefits require long-term strategic investment. By conducting one project, or even a series of adhoc projects, companies miss the overall value of tying these data sets together. Instead they are left with a group of fragmented data sets that cannot be cross analyzed for deeper insights.
By allocating resources upfront and having room in the budget for Market Research, projects will build a framework for ongoing development – rather than yield disposable statistics that will lose value as time moves forward.
- Establish a proactive rather than reactive group mentality
Too often we see Market Research treated as part of a knee-jerk reaction. Either something bad happens, such as rapidly declining sales, or a rushed decision needs to be made and nobody feels confident enough on their own to make the call. So, a Market Research project seems like the right move and a block of resources are pushed through the approval process.
This is an ill-advised approach not only from a Market Research standpoint, but from an overall brand strategy standpoint. The modern consumer market is in a constant state of flux and the most successful brands jump to where customers are going rather than where they’ve been.
By including Market Research as part of the annual budget process, decisions makers can discuss how looking forward with confidence can help accomplish present-day objectives. Instead of using research to only answer the question of “why” something happened in the past, it can be used to project “how” something might happen in the future.
With Market Research already established as a valuable part of the annual strategy, projects can move forward quickly and efficiently; rather than requiring an approval process that might stall and lead to missed opportunities.
- Sooner or later you’re going to need it
The fact of the matter is, somewhere along the line a question will arise that cannot be answered with the available information. When this time comes, brands are either ready to act or they are stuck in a long line of administrative processes. They are either equipped with the resources to do things the right way, or they look to cut corners which decreases data accuracy and integrity.
Perception is unreliable. Data is actionable. Budgeting for Market Research is simply planning ahead so that questions can be answered and important decisions can be confidently made.
Makes sense, right?
For over 30 years, MacKenzie Corp has been using data-driven, actionable insights to bring our partner brands to new heights. Across all company departments within any industry, data is the key to unlocking potential and uncovering new opportunities.
Want to chat about how your company can benefit from including Market Research in the 2019 Strategy and Budget? Give us a shout!