Results. Every business wants them, yet 3 in 4 CEO’s don’t trust marketers to deliver them. In fact, a study from a few years ago revealed that “8 in 10 CEOs believe marketers are disconnected from company’ financial results.” Wow! That’s a big trust problem.

Is this really how company leaders feel about marketing? And more importantly, if so why? Doing a little homework and digging we discovered the answer is in plain sight.

The reason so many businesses distrust marketers is because a lot of decision-making around marketing is made based on “ideas,” “best practices,” and “trends.” And all too often these are the same old ideas, approaches, and tactics that just get a new creative campaign, but failed to work the many times they’ve been used before.

By saying these kinds of marketing decisions and efforts don’t work I don’t mean they didn’t contribute to brand awareness and consideration. But I am saying that such “activity” metrics are not easy to connect to financial growth, which is why few CEO’s trust them.

The fact is that marketing is necessary, but it’s a costly expense for most organizations. And as John Wannamaker, one of the most famous retail leaders from the 20th century once said: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

Personally, I’ve spoken to hundreds of companies over my career. With the exception of some of the largest and biggest brands and advertisers in the world, I’ve been surprised by how few companies are using market and consumer research to guide their marketing decisions.

Especially today, where tactics like social media, mobile, pay-per-click, and digital video have accelerated the pace of competition and created an environment where marketing is expected to be conducted in real-time. Or in other words, act now and plan later (or never).

In 1919, the Reverend H.K. Williams, speaking to a group who were responsible for giving presentations to religious people, famously said: “if you fail to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” This adage is especially true in the era of real-time marketing today.

The pressure to act now and plan later is a red flag that leads to the failure of so much marketing. Generic activity goals – like building awareness, increasing followers, and boosting content engagement – won’t allow you to be accountable for fiscal results.

Here at yorCMO, we believe marketing decisions must be aligned with sales results. Which is why we use market and consumer research to drive marketing decisions before we act.

Here are 10 ways marketing research can drive brand growth. And in the process gather specific insight that will add clarity to your marketing decisions and help your team build trust with the CEO and company leadership.

  1. Interview customers, employees, and stakeholders. A handful of interviews and surveys can be done quickly and be surprisingly insightful with the right probing questions.
  2. Use a Net Promoter Score survey after every customer transaction. I.e. “How willing are you on a scale of 1 to 10 to recommend us based on your recent experience?” Be sure to ask for specific input and feedback to explain the score given.
  3. Hire a mystery shopper. Have them log their activity and findings shopping for the products and services you offer.
  4. Conduct a competitive marketing analysis. Specifically, review the public marketing activity of your top three (3) competitors and define their focus, value proposition and brand story (i.e. the narrative they are communicating to people).
  5. Measure brand awareness. What proportion of your target audience is aware of your brand? Considering it? Shopping your company?
  6. Test the effectiveness of your advertising and marketing content (before you roll it out). Use focus groups or personal interviews to understand which messaging, visuals, offers and creative formats (materials) most influence the customer’s perception, and behavior.
  7. Host a panel group. Create a small online community where your brand fans can share ideas, give feedback on products & services, and interact with company leadership.
  8. Examine social media conversation. Online reviews, comments on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms can quickly help you assess brand sentiment.
  9. Review news and publicity. What are the press and industry influencers talking about? Are they talking positively, negatively or not at all about your brand? The competition?
  10. Map the path-to-purchase. Where are consumers gathering information? What triggers are influencing their actions? How can your brand engage at these touchpoints?

Adding research to your marketing process doesn’t have to be costly, slow or an impediment to action. It’s an iterative process where you learn something important, focus on addressing the issue, then find the next opportunity to better serve and engage your audience.

If you’re stuck and not sure where to begin or how best to add research to your marketing process, let our team at yorCMO help. Contact me at


About the Author:

Rich has held leadership roles at top agencies, directed marketing for a Fortune 100 company and been CMO at a leading regional retail chain. He’s also worked successfully in a number of start-ups and fast growth venture capital-backed firms. Rich has consistently delivered multi-million dollar growth for leading national, regional and local brands  An expert in all aspects of integrated marketing, including analysis, strategic planning, and campaign management, Rich is passionate about brand building. He is also co-author of “Authenticity: Building a Brand in an Insincere Age” which is available from Praeger Press in Jan 2020.

Rich is based in the Greater Chicagoland Area and has strong experience working with clients in Retail, Grocery, Food & Beverages and Consumer Goods.

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