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Market research — the name alone brings moans and groans from customers and businesses alike. Somewhere deep down, we know that it’s worthwhile filling in those seemingly endless surveys to end up with a better, brighter, tastier product or service.
Market research plays a vital part in any business as it gives you insight into your market, your competitors, your products, your marketing and your customers. This way you can make informed decisions, such as which chocolate Easter eggs to stock. And believe me, this is hugely important.
Market research helps you to reduce risks by getting product, price and promotion right from the outset. It also helps you focus your resources where they will be most effective. Much information is available online and from industry organisations, and some of it is free. This information provides data on market size, sales trends, customer profiles and competitors. Your customer records also provide a wealth of information, such as purchasing trends.
So that’s the theory. With our experts like Kate Willis of KW Research and Steve Phillips of Spring Research Ltd offering their hands-on advice and tips, you can turn the theory into good business practice.
To make sure you know how to plan your market research so that you can find out which chocolate your customers prefer, check the Marketing Donut website — it goes live on 20 April.
There’s no avoiding the Internet. Whether you’re checking the headlines, keeping in touch, booking flights or buying a birthday gift for your mother, the chances are you turn to your PC first (or your laptop, or your phone…). It’s scary how reliant on the Internet we’ve become for information and entertainment, and how quickly. Who would have imagined 15, or even 10, years ago that we’d be using telephones to watch a video of William Shatner singing Rocket Man?
This all-pervasiveness is both good and bad news for businesses. Good because the web gives you access to an almost unlimited customer base; bad because just having a website is not nearly enough when the typical visitor expects to be informed and engaged instantly. If you don’t deliver straight away, your visitors will be off to someone who can.
To succeed in the modern business environment, you’ve got to have a web strategy that works. E-commerce, search engine optimisation, online advertising, affiliate marketing, email marketing, social networking – these are all things you may well have to master to maximise your online marketing and sales. It’s horribly confusing and complicated. Or is it?
For the Marketing Donut, we’ve recruited a phalanx of Internet experts to tell you what you need to know in language you can understand. We’ve got Penny Power, for example, the founder of the web’s top business networking site, Sunzu, explaining how to do social networking; a variety of experts from our main sponsor, Google, addressing online advertising; David J Smith, director of operations at the online retail body IMRG explaining e-commerce issues – you get the idea.
With the Marketing Donut, we want to make Internet marketing straightforward for small-business owners. We think we’re going to do it. Find out for yourself on 20 April.
There’s been a lot of talk in the marketing world about how these days advertisers try to make us feel, not think, when they’re selling us stuff. This produces a strong reaction in many people, from rigid indignation at being somehow manipulated through to what George Orwell, himself a top copywriter (day) 1984 author (evenings) – called “an automatic refusal to be impressed.”
Somehow it seems savvy to insist that you’re immune to the emotional power of ads. But how clever are you really? Can anyone be truly unsusceptible? This answer matters most to those of us considering investing in advertising, not least because we’re the ones paying up for all the “lerve”. So is this modern touchy-feely gush worth paying for?
Well, sorry to disappoint the cynics – most people aren’t resistant to good advertising, no matter how media-literate we think we are. Just because you can’t measure it, bottle it, keep it in your handbag or lick chocolate off its edges with your 11am latte, doesn’t mean the power of a great ad doesn’t exist.
Simon Carbery, Leo Burnett creative director and award-winning D&AD executive committee member (to whom most ladies certainly couldn’t be immune – think David Tennant with a hyper-drive brain), explains. Not shirking, he picks our most recession-hit industry, stricken car dealers, as an example.
“Wieden + Kennedy's "Power of Dreams" campaign for Honda doesn’t need an introduction – it has run since 2003. One might not expect something so renowned for its strength of inspiration to be measurable in cold, hard units sold from the forecourt.
“But across Europe in launch year, Honda reduced its media spend, the price of their cars went up, and as a finale, dealers' promotion budgets were cut. Only the UKran the W+K ads. By 2005, the £47 million campaign spend had produced extra £352 million in revenue - from Britain.
"And 500,000 people asked for a dvd of the ad.”
Simon goes on to say that "A good agency knows your customers way better than you ever can – their planners will get to know them intimately. Based on clever strategy, the creative team will come up with an idea – sometimes inexplicably intuitive – that works.”
“You have to be a little cautious about taking a blind leap of faith with your agency, and with hindsight you can see why some big campaigns worked despite being offbeat at the time. But," he concludes, "In general, I'd say trust your heart as well as your head...”
Here is a little taster of the video content you will be able to access on the Marketing Donut website from the 20th April. We are working with Your Business Channel to produce top quality informative content from experts across the UK. In this short clip from an interview with Tim Smit, he talks about how to build highly successful business relationships. Let us know what you think:
CLICK HERE TO PLAY VIDEO (opens in new window)
Tim Smit did something which many people said was impossible. He raised almost £100 million and then built the world's largest greenhouse in a huge hole in the ground.
The Netherlands-born British businessman is widely recognised as one of the most accomplished entrepreneurs in the UK. Educated as an archaeologist, Smit became heavily involved in the music industry before turning his focus to the Eden Project.
While many thought that Smit would run out of energy and money, and therefore fail, he led the charge do raise funding for the initiative, and then led the project to build three transparent biomes in an old china clay pit in the south of England. The biomes contain different eco-climates which represent climates found throughout the world. The Eden Project aims to educate people about environmental issues and engage them to do something about those issues.
If you have an idea which you want to turn into a reality, a challenge which you need to face or a business which you would like to grow, it would be worth your while taking a moment to listen to what Smit has to say.
Cheap and effective, direct marketing is the art of contacting your customers in person with the right message at the right time. Ideal for small businesses, because it can produce a lot of bang for your buck, the best-known types include:
as well as phone and SMS marketing.
With briefs, factsheets and expert contributions covering questions large and small, the Marketing Donut shows you how to plan and run your own direct marketing campaign.
And, crucially our experts show you what to do after your campaign – you will learn how to measure your results so you can improve your sales, spend your limited funds only on what works, and build up a mailing list that is marketing gold dust.
Our experts include the legendary Drayton Bird, the direct marketing revolutionary who is lauded by everyone from the CIM and IDM to Campaign, and a team of hand-picked experts from Royal Mail including Tim Lees and Andrew Miller. As well as getting insider expertise on how to run your firm’s own direct marketing, you’ll also find some of the sharpest (and occasionally, funniest) writing on the web. Site launches on 20 April.
I’m immersed in the world of social media on a daily basis. It’s part of my job, and therefore it’s become a big part of my life. But I’m really surprised how often I’m asked whether social media or social networking or online networks – whatever you want to call this stuff – is mainstream.
“Isn’t it just for kids?”
“It’s mainly students that take part it in, isn’t it?“
“This is really only for a small proportion of the population, right?“
For a while there has been only anecdotal evidence to indicate that social media has become a key part of the way people communicate. But more recently, there has been quite a lot of new evidence emerging which more clearly reinforces that social media has actually become mainstream. Well, that’s if you regard "a very large chunk of most sections of the population are using it" as qualifying for mainstream. And I certainly do. I’m sure with your busy life and the pressures of business, you don’t really have the time to monitor all of this closely. Nor do I really, but needs must, so I make it my business to keep track of the evidence as it pours in. To save you the trouble of researching all of this, you might find the following very useful indeed:
So when somebody asks me whether social media is mainstream, there’s only one answer to give. No matter which way you look at it, it is a very powerful series of tools, channels, communities and discussions. What does this mean for businesses in the UK? It means that if you do not give as much consideration and importance to social media as you do to any other form of marketing, advertising, PR or business promotion, then you are definitely missing a trick. But that's just my view. I’d be really interested in your comments.