Market Research: in-house or outsource?

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Research can be incredibly important for all forms of marketing activity that looks to communicate directly with your target market, including email marketing, sales literature, web pages, PR and advertising to name just a few of the relevant tools.

You need to understand what your customers are looking for and any potential barriers to them purchasing your products or services so you can address these issues in your campaign messages. And this also applies to corporate marketing (including ‘corporate brochures’ and the main company website) where what is being communicated – both the words and pictures – needs to be developed in line with your customers’ needs.

So how should you go about researching your customers and, in particular, should you outsource or do it yourself in-house?

There are certainly advantages of undertaking research projects in-house:

  • You won’t be paying any external costs
  • Your data remains confidential to your organisation
  • You draw your own conclusions and keep these for yourself
  • It can act as a PR exercise if you use existing contacts and handle it right
  • And there are an increasing number of DIY research tools

But what of the downsides? There are quite a number:

  • A lack of technical research experience might mean the information is not as rich as it might have been
  • There will be less accountability and the interviewers (often the sales people) will typically treat the project as secondary to their ‘day job’
  • Participants are often more honest if they are being interviewed by an independent firm
  • Resulting reports are often less professional and comprehensive than those from paid consultants

From The Marketing Campaign Company’s ( perspective, it’s always better to outsource if there is the budget to do so.  There are two solid reasons for this recommendation….

It takes time and effort to undertake research – even if you do it in house there will be an opportunity cost from the resources you take away from the business.  You also need to be confident that you can base important decisions on the data – and in our experience, in-house research struggles to achieve this level of confidence.

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