Essential Research Questions for PR and Marketing Pros
Ask (the right) questions first, shoot out communications later.
Everyone loves to talk about data-driven PR. Research, insights, measurement, analytics, market intelligence – the PR services offer has certainly embraced tactics once relegated to brand and product marketing tool boxes. And while we continue to chip away at the dated perception that PR professionals skipped the STEM track, we still run across plenty of instances where costly campaigns are based on guesswork, bad assumptions, personal bias or, at best, instant surveys, skewed focus groups or generic third-party data. Sad, expensive, ultimately ineffective and 100% unnecessary.
When we say, “let’s research that,” we don’t mean let’s shoot out a couple of survey questions via an app. Our sister company Brandware Research doesn’t conduct research as a sideline, it lives and breathes the science of data. Brandware clients range from global Fortune 100 leaders to start-ups, in diverse industries including automotive, technology, hospitality, publishing, healthcare and home and garden. So, when you hear us talk about data, analytics and insights, it’s not an add-on – it’s serious business.
Not only do we know how to ask the right questions, we develop our own methodologies and products that deliver answers and insights. Below are four of our latest innovations – all with distinct benefits designed to improve the success of your PR and integrated marketing investment.
1. What’s the most effective combination of messages for my target audiences?
PR is all about the right message in the right channel – right? Sure – but how do you know when a message is “right?” Standard message tests can provide an indication of the effectiveness of individual communications and marketing messages, but they do not model the most effective combination of messages. That’s an important distinction because marketing messages are most successfully communicated in sets instead of individually. Our Chorus™ Message Combination Modeling solves this problem. This product determines the optimal set of messages for each target audience, which in turn allows us to develop the most effective communication strategies. Better yet? We have a great simulator tool that you or anyone on your team can easily use to test the impact of any combination of messages on various target segments, from Millennial consumers, ethnic groups and core brand loyalists to first-time buyers or competitor enthusiasts.
2. How do I find and then connect with my best prospects?
Sales is not a dirty word here at Brandware PR. We firmly believe that every PR dollar should support your overall sales and marketing strategy – and let’s face it, that strategy generally is designed to sell something, be it toB2B customers or consumers. That’s why investing in customer segmentation research upfront is so important. Customer segmentation is sophisticated statistical analysis that identifies and profiles a brand’s relevant market segments based on needs and lifestyles, and then quantifies your brand’s potential within each segment. But Brandware raises the bar with our Segmentation Plus™ product. We not only identify the most effective messaging sets for each segment but – perhaps most importantly – develop scoring models so real people in each segment can be located and targeted using integrated marketing tools, from direct mail to digital campaigns. This lets us allocate media dollars where conversion opportunity is the highest – and that delivers measurable sales results.
3. Are my ads and offers pretty, but ineffective?
Creative for creative’s sake – ah, the era of the rock star art director, how we miss it. Well, maybe not (having been subjected to a few creative tirades back in my corporate days.) Here’s how we help clients optimize short-form communications while they’re still in concept form. Brandeware’s Motherlode™ is like A/B graphic testing on steroids. We can pretest thousands of simulated display ads, landing pages, search ads, billboards, or promotional graphics all at once to determine which iterations are best at motivating your target customers’ desired behavior. Importantly, Motherlode’s unique survey-based approach tests actual graphic/copy design combinations – not just attributes or message lists. So, let’s get creative – but before you spend a dime on placement and distribution, let’s make sure that the work will not just win an award for creative, but for real business success.
4. What’s really motivating target customers in my category?
Don’t look now, but budget planning season is imminent. So, before you start slicing up the pie, why not find out who should get the biggest slice? Brandware’s Plan Food™ is a quick and inexpensive read of your category. We use a proprietary mix of web analytics and survey results to help you determine the demographics of your buyers and the buyers of key competitors. Results point out which information sources buyers in your category use most and which of your brand’s individual messages are most likely to motivate them to act. In short, Plan Food gives your agency the basic information we need for campaign strategy development.
PR, in the past, has arguably been one of the bigger offenders in attacking communications issues without benefit of a data-based roadmap. But, practitioners shouldn’t take all the blame – historically it’s most often been a resource issue. When’s the last time your PR budget had a strong research dollar allocation included? Or, if your friends in marketing dropped off a big, fat research deck to help you plan, how many times was the data old, incomplete or just irrelevant to the real questions that need to be asked?
There’s no insight without intelligence – just make sure you’re asking the right questions first.