research + strategic marketing

Good marketing starts with sound research and strategy. It’s not enough to have great creative or a slick video if you don’t know who your target market is or if your message resonates with them.

vitalink develops brand platforms and bases strategic marketing plans on primary and secondary research, including SWOT analysis, market, product, competitive, demographic, geographic, psychographic research, and our own proprietary Perception vs Reality survey.

Why is research needed?

Conducting the right types of research allows you to build a brand platform that creates more connections with potential clients. The cost of implementing a marketing plan is far more expensive if you are implementing a plan that is off-point.

I really appreciated your explanation of the campaign goals and the rationale for your approach, the population targeted, and the regions selected. I think we all learned a lot from your group and appreciate the time and effort you put in to make this campaign – and conference – a success.
— Dorothy Frager, Kansas Department of Health & Environment

For those who want more details about types of research:

(For those who don't:  We'll work with you to determine the type(s) of research you need so your project comes to life.)

Primary market research

We work with clients to develop and deliver surveys (phone, online or mailed), focus groups, and hold “ideation” sessions to collect valuable input from key stakeholder groups. Phone surveys are an excellent vehicle for ascertaining the prevailing attitudes, opinions, awareness levels, and preferences of our target markets. Phone surveys can be implemented in a single market, regional markets, statewide or nationally. Online or “e-surveys” have become a very cost-effective method of gathering quantifiable information from certain target markets of interest. These may be delivered using an email invitation or by embedding a survey on your website. Written surveys are also an option if the client does not have a clean email list or if the target segment prefers direct mail. Focus groups are extremely useful qualitative method to test concepts, ideas and approaches with potential target markets. They are also an outstanding forum in which to gain insight into the emotional aspects involved in the decision making process of a group. Ideation sessions are an effective means of bringing together small, balanced groups of stakeholders to brainstorm in a casual environment; these sessions frequently lead to highly effective, “outside the box” solutions.

vitalink also offers its proprietary Perception vs. Reality Survey™. This tool enables us to compare responses to key questions between internal stakeholders and consumers to identify the sweets spots where you deliver and disconnects that can hurt your business. Our clients frequently find that their customer base is slightly different than they thought or that the consumer’s view of who they are as a company is not what they believe. This fact-based knowledge allows management and the marketing department to focus the strategic plan more effectively, create better marketing materials and direct marketing dollars where they will have the greatest effect.

Secondary research

There are numerous secondary research vehicles vitalink may utilize to evaluate and analyze your markets, stakeholders and prospects. Geographic and demographic data may be evaluated, and psychographic analysis may pinpoint lifestyles, shopping patterns, interests and media preferences to more effectively target your audience. An analysis of your market, including competitors, may identify key industry trends and threats. Market and product line analysis may identify low and high-potential products and future product opportunities.

vitalink utilizes a variety of tools standard to the industry, such as SWOT analysis. We also have several proprietary tools that may be used in certain situations. These include the Advertising Effectiveness Matrix™ and our Competitive Landscape Analysis™. The input from all of the research obtained is analyzed and presented to you as the base for strategic marketing and planning.

Strategic marketing plans + communication plans

Once you have all this valuable research, putting together a strategic marketing plan and a communications plan are the next steps. The plan should outline the steps you will take to meet your goals for the near future. A sound strategic marketing plan with realistic goals, a detailed action plan and a defined budget will keep you on track and you will be less likely to make impulsive decisions or follow paths that will draw you away from goal conversion. The strategic marketing plan should include a clear definition of the target markets, detailed action items with responsibilities assigned, a budget and a resource pool, and target completion dates set, with midpoint checks and success measures defined. Your marketing communications plan should detail and support the strategic marketing plan. Don’t want to write your own strategic marketing plan? vitalink can do it for you and work with you to implement the plan.

If you would like to learn more about the strategic marketing, research and strategic marketing planning offered by vitalink, please call us at 919.850.0605 or contact us online.