Toni Louw’s recent article in Advertising Age, “A Core Research Competence Must Ground Leadership” is on the mark for identifying a problem but falls short of putting forth fresh solutions.
Marketing Research fails to be integral to strategic planning because the process of planning research and then actualizing new strategies once the research is completed is woefully inept.
Untold hours can be spent in identifying creative and media strategies before a dime is spent putting decisions to work. But when it comes to expensive marketing research studies, marketers are prone to whipping out research objectives, collecting data and waiting for the results.
Marketing Research will never be the strong force Louw is seeking until marketers spend the time necessary figuring out the pivotal questions that they should be asking. Questions that provide answers that will, in fact, lead to the strategic direction the marketer is willing and able to execute.
This suggests that research planning should be front-end loaded. It could be brainstorming potential action plans, developing “if the data says this, then I could do that” scenarios or locking decision makers in a room until they fully explore the strategic implications that will surface from the questions that they are asking.
Whatever the process, research will continue to be a step-child to the privileged few or the hidden agendas until the, “I don’t know what I’ll do with the results until I see them,” mentality is purged from our approach to using research data.