If you have ever engaged a public relations, advertising or marketing agency, they have probably recommended some form of research to help refine your messaging and establish benchmarks for the success of a campaign.
Common Misconceptions About Research
A common refrain from a client or prospective client is: “We don’t need research, we know what the problem is.” Another popular one is: “We don’t have the budget to spend money on research, we just need a PR campaign.” And the always popular: “We don’t have time for research, we must react!”
The Importance of Research
I have been on both the agency and the client side of these discussions and understand all of these responses. But I am here to tell you that a well-conceived research plan will greatly improve the effectiveness of your organization’s communications. At worst, it will confirm what you already think you know. At best, you will gain insights into your target audiences – and their perceptions of you – that will help you refine and target your messages for maximum effectiveness.
One caveat is that if your agency is simply proposing research as a way to jack up their fees then you may need to reconsider your relationship. Quite often, an expert third party research firm would add the most value and provide truly independent findings.
Whatever your situation, don’t underestimate the value of research in your communications program.