In a recent Ad Age article, they advised marketers to plan ahead now for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Your calendar is correct – it’s only April and Easter was just this past Sunday.
As we learned last year (for many, with regret and disillusionment), the holiday shopping season moved back one day to Thanksgiving Day. Expect more companies to jump on that bandwagon this year as for the most part, it was a successful strategy. Think it will stop there? Think again. Expect the kickoff date to slide even earlier in subsequent years.
For marketers, the planning indeed needs to start now. After all, there are the proverbial ducks to get in a row. If you’re uncertain about your “ducks” – the answers to the questions of who? what? where? when? why? how? then you desperately need market research. Without it, you’ll be planning blindfolded and will likely fail before you even begin. I’d even argue that it should be your first duck in that proverbial row.
Properly designed market research can provide the answers to those questions, giving you direction for your planning. It will capture where you are and where you need to be with your efforts. It can prove or disprove assumptions you’ve made about your industry, your customers or your clients. It can confirm a good plan and point out the flaws of a bad plan.
If you’re not experienced with market research, don’t assume any old Survey Monkey survey that you or your intern whips up will do. Bad idea. Really bad idea. Poorly designed market research is actually worse than no research. It could lead you to draw incorrect conclusions and send you down the wrong path.
If you think you can’t afford to incorporate market research as part of your planning process, I’d say you can’t afford not to. Companies don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan. No company is too big or small to need market research.
When is the last time you professionally researched your industry, company, competitors and/or customers?