Identifying the Problem

If you are considering conducting marketing research, chances are you have already identified a problem and an information need.

This step is always the first of the marketing research steps. At this point, the problem will have been recognized by at least one level of management, and internal discussions will have taken place. Sometimes, further definition of the issue or problem is needed, and for that there are several tools you can use.

Here at the outset of the marketing research steps, the most common tools are internal and external secondary research. Secondary research intelligence consists of information that was collected for another purpose, but can be useful for other purposes.

Examples of internal secondary research are sales revenues, sales forecasts, customer demographics, purchase patterns, and other information that has been collected about the customer. Often referred to as data mining, this information can be critical in diagnosing the problem for further exploration and should be leveraged when available and appropriate. The amount of internal secondary information that can be applied is typically limited.

External secondary research is typically far more available, especially since the Internet age. Most external secondary information is produced via research conducted for other purposes, financial performance data, expert opinions and analysis, corporate executive interviews, legal proceedings, competitive intelligence firms, etc..

Leading sources for external secondary research resources include:

o Newspapers/Magazine Articles (business and vertical trades)
o Television
o Newsletters
o Competitive Intelligence Firms
o Industry Reports
o Trade Associations
o Business Directories
o Government Publications & Websites
o Search Engines
o Competitive Websites
o Friends & Colleagues