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How can I convince my company that we need an outside organization to perform a marketing study?

If your company’s top managers understand the basics of marketing and marketing management, they will probably be receptive to the idea of a market research study.

Very rarely will you have to do any convincing if your CEO has a background as a marketing or commercial director, an MBA or a degree in economics. Things get more complicated if your CEO used to work in finance. You’ll be even more hard pressed if he or she has a technical or military background. Sometimes it takes hard numbers and arguments to convince a corporate leader who is new to marketing.

Before you tackle your company’s top managers, write out a brief outline of the points you need to make:

1. Tasks (or problems) facing the company (such as increasing profits or entering new geographical markets)
2. What marketing information you need to find solutions to your problems (for example, information on the volume of regional markets)
3. Why you can’t collect the information on your own (because the only statistics available in open sources are inaccurate; or because you need a qualitative study of consumers and don’t have an in-house moderator)
4. What will happen if the company puts off making important decisions or makes decisions without the relevant marketing data. What mistakes might the company make? What are the risks (present projected loss figures). For example, by failing to test a new brand’s strategic platform and attributes, the company might spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on development, only to find that consumers aren’t thrilled about the new product. If you find good examples in other companies’ experience, use those, too!
5. Emphasize that you’ve already thought about how to optimize the money spent on outsourcing. Perhaps you only want to contract for a field study, after which you will analyze the data and develop new marketing tools on your own. Or maybe you know the study will be affordable because you only need a small sample.
6. How you plan to use the information gained: give a detailed description of what you can do, refine, develop, etc. using the data from the study.

As a last resort... If your top managers still aren’t convinced, tell them that research has shown that marketing studies are four times more effective at enhancing shareholder value than any other marketing tools!
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