US-based arts marketing blogger Chad Bauman reminds us that a combination of market research and data analysis prevent us from having to guess at our marketing strategies.
In decades past, the success of a marketing director depended heavily on his or her ability to predict the future - often by guessing. Guess well and you were a success. Guess poorly and your marketing career was short-lived. Marketers became adept at reading the tea leaves, and depending upon their gut and experience to make educated guesses.
As my friend Rick Lester says, 'prayer should not be a marketing strategy.' On this blog, I've written several times about the importance of using data to make decisions. Often times companies have years of transactional data that can be invaluable when developing strategy for future campaigns. That said, I've somewhat neglected another important tool that I've used throughout my career to help guide decision-making: market research. Combined, market research and data analysis form a formidable team. One should not be chosen over the other, but they should be used in tandem, and if done so, the need to guess is almost virtually eliminated.
Data analysis is best used to help inform future operating decisions that closely align with past performance. For example, when rescaling a house, marketers can be relatively certain which seating sections can withstand a price increase by analyzing sales patterns and looking for sections that are in constantly high demand. We can also tell which households are most likely to subscribe and what package and price point to pitch based upon their interactions with us. But what happens when you are faced with the unknown? Over the years at Arena Stage, I've been faced with challenges that have very few, if any, precedents. There wasn't any data to pull from, either internally or from other companies. We were in uncharted waters. And that's when market research became critical.