Market research – smart expense in a bad economy

Sandra Wills HannonSandra Wills Hannon runs a public relations and market research firm. runs a public relations and market research firm.
xG Technology - VOIP marketers

xG Technology - VOIP marketers

While economic indicators show an improving economy, most businesses are still reeling from the recession. We continue to see layoffs, plant closings and store closings, to name a few. For those of us in public relations, marketing and advertising, we know too well about drastic budget cuts. In addition, market research is taking a hit.

But of all things to cut, market research is a critical component of any communications campaign that can save communicators from serious mistakes. Market research provides the insight that is the pulse of your consumers. It tests your campaign messages and your creative concepts to see if it will move consumers or audiences.

In short, market research takes the guess work out of your campaigns so you are surer that your messages and concepts will hit the mark. Skip this process in your campaign planning and you court disaster, risking damage to your campaign, company or organization.

Here’s one story to serve as an example. In 2006 we (The Hannon Group) were secured by xG Technology to market test a prototype of new VOIP technology that was going to offer consumers very low cost telephone service to beat any other product on the market. The company decided to market test it for attractiveness and preferred price points.

It’s a good thing.

We designed and executed a multiple focus group study in multiple cities with a variety of participants from college-age adults to retired seniors. It turned out that the prototype was deeply disliked — across the board. The company decided not to rollout the tested prototype and, instead, marketed the TX-60, a “sexier” phone that participants said they much preferred.

The research saved xG Technology hundreds of thousands of dollars in production and promotion costs for a product that would have surely tanked in the market…just around the time that the economy started to tank. Can you imagine the impact that would have had on the company? Instead, with the introduction of a more attractive consumer product in 2007, the company managed to make a profit in 2008, while other companies were going belly-up.

I like to think market research helped to save xG Technology from financial disappointment. Maybe that comment is an over-reach, but there is more than an element of truth to the statement too.

About sandrawillshannon

Sandra Wills Hannon is Founder and Principal of The Hannon Group, LLC, a company that helps clients reach target markets using cost-effective public relations and market research strategies. End-clients include AMTRAK, ExxonMobil, Cricket Wireless, DURON Paints and Wallcoverings, Freddie Mac, the US Departments of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control, the US Navy and the College Savings Plans of Maryland. A nationally respected communicator, she provided counsel to the Bush and Clinton administrations to support the largest social marketing campaign in the United States history. In 2008, The Hannon Group won the Thoth Award in Research/Evaluation from the Public Relations Society of America. In 2005, her firm's campaign "Play Tennis - The Sport for a Lifetime" was listed in the Top 50 US Publicity Campaigns. She’s trained close to 3,000 managers and staff to enhance their skills in public speaking and media relations. Prior to forming The Hannon Group, Dr. Wills Hannon was a vice president at Fleishman-Hillard. She managed teams that developed award winning community relations and media relations for clients including the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. During her tenure at Fleishman-Hillard, her projects received the prestigious Bronze Anvil Commendation for Excellence (Best Brochure) from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and the Thoth Award (Best Brochure) from the PRSA-National Capital Chapter. She also led the market research project that received a Certificate of Excellence from the Iron Sabre Award from PR Week, a weekly magazine that covers the public relations industry. Sandra was a member of the PRSA-NCC Board of Directors for 11 years and served as a President of the 1400-member association. She has a Doctorate of Philosophy in organizational communications from Howard University, a Master of Arts in educational studies from Concordia University and a Bachelor of Arts in public relations from Mount Saint Vincent University. Sandra is accredited in public relations from PRSA and is fluent in French. She lives in Maryland with her husband, Kevin, and their daughters Madison, Alicia and DeMaris.

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