Taking Marketing Beyond the Marketing Department: Market Research

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If you’re in a position similar to mine, you’re lucky enough to be part of the marketing department, but people don’t always understand or buy into what you’re trying to accomplish.  I still struggle to share the significance of marketing with our entire organization.  I strive to make marketing something that is seen as an overall asset to our organization – instead of a department I supervise.    IMC and branding are the keys to success for the entire organization.   As members of the WVU IMC program we know the importance of market research, but how do we get the ‘higher-ups’ on board with it?  I want to share with you my ideas and experiences on how to share the value and importance of marketing, specifically market research, with your colleagues and I hope you’ll join in the discussion, too!

One of the areas this has been essential to our organization was in our employee engagement area.  Over the past three years, we’ve been able to get every department on board with creating IMC campaigns.  (My IMC binder is the proud owner of 10 marketing plans.) This year we decided that we wanted to create a section of our target audience analysis specifically dedicated to achieving a better understanding of our student employees.  One of our organizational IMC goals is to increase brand awareness in our student employees.  We have approximately 100 students employees and they tend to graduate on a regular basis.  They’re an essential target audience of ours and we didn’t have the best understanding of who they were.

In order to remedy to this situation we conducted a survey of our student employees and learned a great deal of information that helps us not only better market to them, but also schedule events that better meet their other obligations. Our HR department was concerned with the attendance at their events. The information from the survey showed that 88% of our student employees are otherwise engaged on campus (student organization, other campus positions, or both). Knowing how busy these students are helps the department better gauge a realistic attendance number for their events. It also provides the marketing department with essential tactics that improve our internal communication.

In addition to marketing and program benefits, market research can improve the value of products in the lives of consumers. Market research helped to improve the Ford Escapes by developing the kick-activated liftgate. The commercial explains that the engineer on the project grew up on two continents and noticed that people always had their hands full. So, they created a kick-activated liftgate that made loading the vehicle easier. This essential information changed the features of the vehicle to make it more appealing to their target audience. Innovations such as this helps c-level executives see how, what is traditionally viewed as “marketing information”, can be beneficial for the entire company.

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As marketers, it’s essential for us to showcase the value of marketing throughout the organization and its impact on products, services, and ideas. What have you done to help show the overall company benefit of market research?  Any advice you would like to share?

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One Response to “Taking Marketing Beyond the Marketing Department: Market Research”

  1. Julie Link Says:

    Hi Kat, you’re singing my song here! As a market researcher for the last 13 years, one of the ongoing challenges is the c-suite’s buy-in on the big, mysterious primary research budget. At times it warrants an ROR — return on research — analysis. Other times it helps to get them to conceive the project with you (read: let them think it was their idea). And, if all else fails, get them in the field with you when possible. Easier said than done in most companies, but the in-the-moment learning in the field is the best bang for the buck.

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