A good marketing strategy is based on good data. That's why it's important to start the strategic marketing planning process with data about your industry and specific market, and about your customers.
Industry and market dataWhen your industry is growing, your company is probably growing, too. And, when your industry is starting to trend downward, it's time to update your strategic marketing plan to reduce the impact of your industry contracting. There are several types of data that can provide insights into how your industry is trending:
- Political and other external influences
- Macro economic trends
- Industry size and growth
- Competitor size and growth
Customer behavior dataMost companies have an abundance of data about their customers that goes unused, such as:
- Web analytics data on how visitors perform on your Web site
- Customer purchase history on which products are re-ordered with other products, and which types of customers buy which products
- Won-lost data on which prospects did not purchase from your company, and whether a competitor received the order
- Primary research - Hire a market research firm to contact a representative sample of the market.
- Secondary research - Find market research that's been published about the company's markets or about a market segment.
Buyers are now shifting from relying on manufacturers for product information to participating in online conversations about a company's products.
Marketers now need to track user generated content on all of the social media sites, forums, blogs, video sharing sites, and other ways the Internet distributes information about your company and brands.
Monitoring these online conversations can help you understand changes in customer behavior and product purchase patterns.
Turning data into Information
Lots of data by itself doesn't help in creating a marketing strategy. What's needed is a good analysis of the data. In other words, information on how potential customers feel, think, and act. And, it helps to create a good mind map showing customer behavior.
Good market researchers are skilled in the art of spotting patterns in the data and highlighting significant relationships between marketing activities and purchase behavior. In other words, market researchers turn data into the information that's needed to make sound marketing strategy decisions.
Gathering data on the industry, market, and your customers is the first step in formulating an effective strategic marketing plan.