If you are in the middle of preparing your 2019 marketing research budget, count yourself lucky! Many organizations do not have separate marketing research budgets but simply bury them as an afterthought in their Marketing budgets. But even if no one is overtly asking for your marketing research needs, it is always a good idea to plant the seeds by spelling out what is needed, how you will deliver, and what it will cost. (You might also think about what your marketing research could save. While large companies have the margin to write off product development and marketing and advertising mistakes, most companies do not. The risk of not doing marketing research should also be factored into your marketing research budget plan.)
Budgeting for marketing research starts with asking questions:
- What do we need to learn about the marketplace and our target markets? Keep in mind to focus your information needs in the areas that are most important. Focus should also help to keep the costs of surveys down as well. (Many companies forget that the first step in any research project is to evaluate what information you already have!)
- What do we need to learn about our competition? Don’t forget competition – your business does not operate in a vacuum.
- What types of information do our various teams need? Look beyond Marketing to evaluate marketing research needs throughout your company.
- What is our in-house level of marketing research expertise? While DIY marketing research tools have come a long way, they are not the answer to every research problem. Honestly assess whether you are up for DIY, or whether it might be better to seek outside expertise.
The next step is to look at all the information needs you uncover and to determine the best approach to filling them. Can similar information needs be bundled together? And when you’re thinking about how to best meet all the needs, keep in mind that there are two types of research to consider: primary, which includes both qualitative and quantitative projects that are done specifically for your information needs, and secondary research, which is usually collected by a third-party and available to many companies for a fee.
Secondary research tends to be much less expensive than primary, so that is usually a good place to start. Additionally, you may find that secondary research can be used in many different applications throughout your company to solve information needs. Ashlan Bonnell, of MarketResearch.com, gives these budgeting guidelines for secondary research: Top Level Reports ($100 – $1,000), Full-Market Reports ($1,500 – $8,000, most commonly $3,500 – $4,000), and Product Detail Market Reports ($15,000 – $35,000). Keep in mind there is subscription secondary research services that charge by the user and those can run into the hundreds of thousands, depending upon the number of users and the type of information.
Primary research costs are much harder to estimate for budget purposes. The key variables to consider are sample (size and source), research approach (qualitative or quantitative), methodology (focus groups vs. ethnographies, online vs. offline) as well as any advanced analytics that might be required to complete the project. Most researchers rely on experience, but your marketing research partner will be more than happy to help you estimate the budget for your projects.
The most important thing is to live within whatever budget you are awarded by your company. Research project parameters (such as sample size and some methodological elements) can be adjusted to manage the cost of the project, within reason. Be sure that everyone understands the impact of your project adjustments to avoid unnecessary disappointment, and you should be able to meet both your company’s information and financial needs.
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