marketing research

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Marketing Research
Marketing research is a broad concept that includes market research. These 2 business concepts are often confused by the novice entrepreneur. Market research is research into a specific market, a narrowly focused concept. In contrast, marketing research includes market research but also includes an exploration of the industry, products, and the production and distribution components of an industry. Marketing research links the consumer/customer, producer, distribution channels, and the respective company to evaluate marketing actions. Findings from the marketing research should be utilized to develop the marketing plan.1

Prior to beginning marketing research, the nurse entrepreneur should outline his or her specific marketing goals and objectives. The marketing objectives should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time specific. There are various strategies to engage in marketing research. Such strategies can be classified as either primary or secondary data sources. Primary data sources include such strategies as on-line research using surveys or questionnaires; attending nursing and trade association meetings, or conducting interviews and focus groups. Data collected from these primary data sources are gathered through direct observation or interviewing consumers.2 Secondary data sources include such strategies as accessing trade magazines, libraries, or reviewing newspaper articles.2 Both primary and secondary sources of data are essential when conducting marketing research. This column will present a few research strategies to conducing marketing research. Nursing and Trade Association Meetings

Nurse entrepreneurs should attend nursing association meetings to market their services but also to explore the competitors present. In addition to nursing discipline-specific association meetings, the nurse entrepreneur must attend and explore trade association meetings that are specific to their service or product industry.

Focus Interviews or Groups
Focus interviews are one-on-one interviews that typically explore the consumer's opinion regarding the service or product. Focus groups are a mechanism to generate similar information to the focus interviews but achieve an economy of scale by gaining data from multiple individuals at one time. A focus group typically consist of 8 to 10 persons in which a facilitator focuses and probes in an interview format regarding a particular service or product. Sophisticated focus groups can utilize one-way mirrors, closed-circuit videotaping, and audio recording to capture the full context of the information exchange between the participants and facilitator.3 In addition, online focus groups and panels can be utilized successfully in marketing research. Focus groups can also be a relatively inexpensive strategy to use.

Mystery Consumers
The utilization of mystery consumers is gaining recognition as a useful data generation strategy for marketing research. A mystery consumer assumes the role of a consumer to gather evaluative information regarding various aspects of a service or product from the consumer's perspective. Mystery consumers have been identified as an essential data collection strategy to generate information regarding the type and level of customer service provided at various aspects along a service or product line.4

Geographic Industry Maps
An underutilized marketing research strategy is the utilization of geographic maps to explore the demographic population and service or product utilization within an industry. The nurse entrepreneur can plot the presence of businesses, service or product data, and essential customer demographic data onto a map to visualize the marketplace dynamics of an industry.

Field Interview (Research)
Through networking with experts in the field, valuable information can be obtained about a particular market. In addition, the field interview provides primary data from the customer or competitors...
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