Principle 5. Base decisions on evidence and keep checking in.
Marketers cannot afford to blindly try out different options, so they do not simply rely on their instincts or what they think an audience might want. Instead, they conduct audience research. This research is conducted both at the beginning of and during a campaign so that results can be checked against assumptions. A campaign is not only designed based on research findings but also modified as the audience's reaction to the marketing campaign or product is better understood.
As you design a program, constantly ask yourself: How much do I really know about my audience? Most likely, you won't know as much as you need to know, so be sure to conduct thorough market research.
Following are three basic types of research that can be the most helpful.
Find other studies. Look at work done by others on your topic. Learn from past programs. Conduct literature reviews (a look at all the previous research about a given subject). The key is to list the 5 or 10 ideas you get from this research and pick out what matters to your specific program.
This type of research includes techniques such as holding focus groups, talking to community leaders, using direct observation, and conducting indepth interviews. These techniques are considered qualitative because they involve small numbers of the target population and therefore are not representative. Qualitative work helps you explore ideas, try out vocabulary or messages, and listen to members of your target audience in their own words.
Check out the Community Toolbox for step-by-step processes, sample questions, and other resources to use when conducting qualitative research.
This type of research involves the use of surveys, which are best constructed after some qualitative work has been done. Many of the source research findings include surveys completed by others. Surveys require a good deal of professional experience to develop, administer, and analyze, but they are the only sure way to determine how representative your conclusions are.