A lot of people try to present marketing and advertising as a science, but in reality it isn’t. In reality, even advertising research is subject to a lot of different methodologies and interpretations. A lot of people proceed with advertising market research as if they were just doing social science. They try to get as good a sample as they can and the most accurate results possible, taking great time and effort to be scientific about it.
My particular approach to advertising research has always been somewhat different than this. When I research advertising, the goal is to come up with an effective advertising campaign. As such, all you need is plausibility. You don’t need to know for sure that an approach is the very best, you just need enough evidence to suggest that it will work well. After that, all you have to do is to trust in your own instincts.
There are a lot of more conservative advertising researchers who view this approach as kind of reckless. They say that if you don’t research advertising correctly, you can cost your clients a fortune in wasted money. To them, I always give the same reply: no matter how much advertising research you do, you can’t guarantee that an advertising campaign would work. Marketing and advertising is about taking risks with creative and innovative ideas. If what you need is security and guarantees, you’re probably in the wrong field.
That is not to say that advertising research is unhelpful. As a matter of fact, market research is one of the most useful tools that advertisers have. It can help you target a demographic more effectively, rule out questionable tactics, or figure out which media to emphasize primarily in your marketing campaign. Certainly, market research trials are always necessary before you spend the time and expense for a nationwide campaign. Best of all, your research can help you to convince a distrustful client that your approach will work.
The most important thing to remember, however, is that you are in business. As an advertising consultant, you have one goal: to make your client’s advertising campaigns succeed. If you can do that with a minimum of advertising research, go for it. If you think that researching your advertising strategy will help, go for it. You will find out soon enough whether or not your instincts are any good. If they aren’t any good, you probably should find a different field anyway.