Numerical Fluency and the Importance of Market Research

Becky Morehouse

Becky Morehouse

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Part 8 of 12: What I Wish I Knew as a New Marketer

In this blog I explore what it means to be numerically fluent and the critical importance of timely, salient market research. Before we begin, I first want to introduce the concept of numerical fluency. Numerical fluency is to data and market research what literacy and a love of language are to reading and writing. It is not merely gathering the data, but knowing when to gather the data, what the data means, and how it can be used to improve performance.

From a marketing perspective, numerical fluency involves a commitment to the routine gathering of timely, useful data. Central to this is the annual budgeting for data collection and analysis. This is often presented as a research cycle; a detailed plan of what studies and assessments are to be undertaken and when.

Read Part 7: Brand 4.0 and Beyond

Numerical fluency also means a commitment to best research practices. In other words, matching the questions to the audiences and reaching these audiences with the right methodologies. The goal is to provide confidence in the findings.

Finally, numerical fluency means a willingness to listen to the data and let it inform your marketing endeavors.

Researchers and marketers who are numerically fluent are much more than number crunchers. They don’t chase data, they chase insights and they use those insights to improve performance.

Using Research

For the most part, the numerically fluent marketer uses research in four ways:

  • To understand or explore a marketplace. Decisions about whether to launch a new program or open a new location fall into this category. Marketers use data to provide direction, clarify options, and reduce uncertainty.
  • To test new ideas and concepts. Debate over the most effective landing page or tagline can quickly be settled through research.
  • To establish initial baselines. If you plan to measure campaign effectiveness at a later date (see below), then you must have a clear understanding of how you are perceived right now. Research must be a prioi before it can be used to measure performance ex post facto.
  • To monitor and measure the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns and strategies. This is the arena of mROI, or measuring marketing return on investment. In this way, we use research to measure outcomes and not merely output. More than simply focusing on getting an ad campaign launched, numerically fluent marketers want to know what impact it had. Did it move the needle? Did it achieve the results we intended?

Almost every marketing miscue has, at its core, missing or inadequate research. Savvy marketers, those who are numerically fluent and committed to results, understand that the time and money spent on research will help assure their marketing success.

Skipping research is the ultimate definition of penny wise and pound foolish.

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