Fundamentally Speaking: Back To The Basics in Marketing Research

In marketing research, we are frequently faced with getting answers faster and for less investment. In the current business climate, we have become all too familiar with the term“doing more with less.” During a recent NY / Philadelphia MRA conference, we heard repeatedly that it is not only the marketing research supplier facing these issues but also client companies and their end users. In the real world, when facing such aforementioned constraints, what might help in delivering on objectives while continuing to provide credible information?

Throughout many aspects of life, we find success by returning to fundamentals. Although getting back to basics sounds obvious, it is often overlooked. When a baseball player experiences a hitting slump, what does he do? He works with a hitting coach to determine if his fundamentals are correct (i.e. stance, swing, mental approach, etc.) The financial markets are no different. Often we read that the financial market needs to turn to fundamentals in order to back on track or grow. CEO’s of large corporations often mention that their respective companies have solid fundamentals. Solid fundamentals translate into success.

In marketing research, returning to fundamentals and applying superior practices can lead to efficiency. Instead of rushing to find answers, we should not lose sight of basics such as what is it we want to learn. The “how we go about it” ought to come later. Simply obtaining information does not serve stakeholders competently.

It is very tempting and easy in the digital world to go online and get information. Digital is built for speed. However, the old adage “garbage in/garbage out” has never been more valid. More information should never be our goal but, instead, meaningful information.Fundamentals in research tie directly back to getting it right the first time. Today there are many resources from which to garner information. Whether we are conducting primary or secondary research, qualitative or quantitative, there are fundamentals that must be deployed in order to capture findings that meet our goals. “Back to the basics” comes down to applying the right resource against what we want to learn. The mistake of placing the cart before the horse is not new.

Successful solutions are not solely about research technique but in applying optimal methodology to yield credible outcomes. Our challenge is not to be induced by the speed associated with the latest and/or so called greatest but to leverage wide ranging knowledge in order to get it right. Poor designs associated with problem definition, sampling frame, questionnaire development, execution or analysis will guarantee dire results. Starting with fundamentals gives us a foundation from which to build a successful project.

[Editor's Note: This post originally appeared on Steve Levine's Blog, and is syndicated here with permission.]

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