When first discussing a new marketing opportunity with clients, there are some things we strategists hear often. One challenge is that budget, timing, or other factors don’t always allow for as much research as everyone would like, so the conversation goes something like “We know the problem and our audience. Let’s just jump into [insert project here].”
We get it, we want to jump in too! When you’re itching to kick off a project that’s been planned for months or years, waiting even one more week for the finished product seems too long. Plus, we recognize that research and discovery is not something you can see or hold as easily—it’s not a shiny new logo or jazzy new website you can explore right away. However, as brand strategists whose work guides the creation of those logos, websites, or other final deliverables, we know that it's much more difficult to find that right “way in” without the research to complement our creativity.
I like to think of it like this: Imagine your project or strategy is an archer’s arrow sailing toward a target. It doesn’t matter that you can shoot the arrow far, fast, or with a fancy bow. … if you miss the bullseye. Discovery tells you where to aim.
That’s why “understanding” is always the first step in the Yes& process. Critical insights uncovered during discovery fuel subsequent efforts: strategy, creative development, and deployment. But fear not. Digging into research and uncovering the core of your audience’s thoughts and needs doesn’t have to be mysterious, complex, or overwhelmingly extensive. Depending on your project, its timing, and the availability of relevant data, here are 3 ways you might dive into discovery:
Level 1: Let’s Chart the Waters
Do you already have data that supports a strategic direction? Is your marketing challenge and solution pretty clear? If so, discovery could entail analyzing existing data and completing a brand, digital, or materials audit. This helps us identify current strengths, weaknesses, and clear improvement opportunities. We could also do supplementary secondary research to further understand how industry trends or sentiment could alter the game plan. Finally, we could leverage our third party, real-time data sources to reach deeper into the psyche of your audience—revealing their preferences, behaviors, media consumption, psychographics, demographics, and more.
Level 2: Let’s Get our Feet Wet
Interested in seeing how similar organizations market their brands? Want to hear more about the nuances of your audience’s thoughts? If so, let’s add a few items to the Level 1 list. Discovery here could also include conducting a competitive analysis to see how your peers compare, or digging into the “why” behind consumers’ behavior with qualitative data. We could speak with key individuals during stakeholder interviews or connect with several people at once during focus groups. Now that’s good stuff!
Level 3: Let’s Dive On In
Is it important to validate findings with a broader group? Are there variables or unknowns that would benefit from further digging? If so, let’s go all in. Building on the work of Levels 1 and 2, we might expand on the qualitative data set by deploying a survey to a larger audience. A quantitative analysis done on those findings could then confirm behavior or uncover additional insights and correlations. Sometimes, however, actions speak louder than words. Ethnographic studies or digital User Experience (UX) testing enable us to observe audiences and see how they actually behave in a real environment.
Net net, I’ve always liked the mantra, “If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing well”—and I think it perfectly describes the value of research and discovery. Skipping it won’t lead to new or better results. Rather, investing time upfront to better understand the challenges at hand will pay dividends toward getting results that are more impactful than you imagined.
Unless you’re Robin Hood, give us a call to give your project’s “aim” a bit of guidance.
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