The purpose of research is to inform action. It shouldn't be considered as a one-off exercise. Time changes things - people's expectations, market conditions, technology - and you need to be aware of that, or someone else may meet your customers needs better.
There are a number of different types of research - using Google isn't the only one! That said "desk research" - the investigation of what information is already out there is a valid starting point! There are 2 other major forms of research - "qualititative" and "quantitative".
Qualititave research is used to gather insights into a problem or to develop hypotheses, it is an excellent way of identifying opinions. An example would be to delve into the real reasons for negative reviews
Quantitative research, such as those voting intention polls you see, are the objective measurement and statistical analysis of data collected using surveys and questionnaires. Examples could be to establish the average waiting time for a component to fail.
T-E-N can assist with developing research briefs, initial desk research (including the analysis of exsting internal company data), selecting the most effective type of research methodology, questionnaire design, selecting and liasing with external market research agencies and general research project management.
A strategy is a framework for making decisions about how you will "play the game" of business. These decisions, which occur daily throughout the organisation, include everything from capital investments, to operational priorities, to marketing, to hiring, to sales approaches, to branding efforts and to how each individual shuffles his To Do list every single morning. Without a strategic framework to guide these decisions, the organisation will run in too many different directions, accomplish little, squander profits, and suffer enormous confusion and discord.
A key question you'll need to ask yourself is "Why do you think you can beat the competition?"
Innovation comes in many different forms, and yes it is frequently 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration, rather than a blinding flash of light. Most companies are, in some way, innovative.
A lot of innovation is "incremental" - small changes that can make things better for your customers. This could be simply defining something in terms that your customers understand rather than a format that meets your needs.
Most people think of "disruptive" innovation when they think of innovation. A classic example of this has to be the way in which Apple has dramatically impacted on a number of different markets - the personal computer, the mobile phone and music (iTunes and the iPod).
Market innovation is where you apply your (or pther people's) product or skills to a completely different market. NASA is one of the best at doing this. Think of everyday products you know such as Teflon coating first developed by Du Pont which NASA applied to the Space Shuttle's head shields and space suits. What you know today as memory foam was developed by NASA, back in 1966, to improve the safety of aircraft seats!
Finally think of what the Internet has allowed to happen, truly radical innovation - new business models, totally new markets.
Wikipedia sums it up nicely - Creativity is a phenomenon whereby something new and somehow valuable is formed. The created item may be intangible (such as an idea, a scientific theory, a musical composition, or a joke) or a physical object (such as an invention, a literary work, or a painting).
In business creativity is desperately required when you aren't happy with the staus quo and realise that something needs to be done, or something needs to happen - in other words you need a problem to solve and the motivation to do it. It's a positive act - but an act that everybody is capable of and it isn't restricted to just the great painters or thinkers of today.
It's common for business to have talented creative people already there - yet the working environment stifles creativity - enabling creativity to blossom is a creative step in itself.
After a lifetime working in marketing it's obvious that EVERYONE has an opinion on markleting - it doesn't matter whether they have the skills or the nous to have those opinions - but share them they will!! [Rant over]
There are libraries full of earnest studies of marketing, the components of marketing, the sort of marketing strategies that can be applied to achieve goals. Of course marketing has it's own language - "above the line", "below the line" - designed to make it seem special. In fact one might argue that it is basically 90% common sense and 10% jargon!
Marketing is usually viewed as an expense and when times are tight it's the first thnig that gets cut - a strategy that usually only leads to further cust in other areas of the business when it becomes clear that customers are leaving and not being replaced.
T-E-N can guide you through the jargon to create, implement and monitor the effectiveness of a wide range of marketing campaigns - campaigns designed to satisfy your customers needs and wants - profitably.
For many people, especially those who have been in business for decades the massive explosion of social media has been difficult to understand - be warned, you ignore it at your peril!
It's imperative to keep a watch on how your company is viewed by customers and critics across the spread of social media channels - from Facebook to SnapChat, from Twitter to Pinterest - and beyond. Many companies are turning to social media to manage their entire customer service support, and even the smallest organisation needs to realise that customers are realising the power of using social media to achieve their own goals.
Used properly social media is, currently, the most cost-effective form of marketing. T-E-N can help you to create, manage and monitor the regular stream of communication you need to enage in to get the msot out of the various channels.
Do engage with your customers in this way - it's an excellent way of creating advocates for your business and getting one up on the competition!
It's far more important that that, even if it is seen by many as a "informal discussion". You need to think of a blog as a means of giving your customer information that they value or educating them on issues that they may not have considered may impact their lives.
The best blogs provide a regular stream of content for their readers - and, not unsurprisingly, the most important bloggers are making serious money! Now whilst creating a new income stream in this way may not be on your agenda, the very fact that people can make money from blogging shows their value!
It was the Cluetrain Manifesto "The Internet became a place where people could talk to other people without constraint. Without filters or censorship or official sanction — and perhaps most significantly, without advertising." That last bit is key. To make your blog really work it needs not to appear as advertising - even though it basically is!
So, careful content curation is critical - but it's perfectly possible - T-E-N can show you how.
In the late 1990's a series of business books were published that set out a series of "theories" of what was happening - how this new thing called the Internet would impact on the world of business and its customers.
The Dream Society by Rolf Jensen, the Director of the Copenhagen Institute of Future Studies, set out a future where the "storytellers" would be come the most valuable people. He foresaw a shift from the Chief Information Officer to the Chief Storytelling Officer and whilst those titles may not be the ones used today he was right to see that the story behind the product will provide the competitive edge.
Funky Business by two Swedish economics professors, Nordstrom & Riddestrale claimed rightly that "Business as usual was uninspired - talent doesn't want to work and peole don't want to buy there".
Geoffrey Moore was writing about "Crossing the Chasm", Gary Hamel's book was called "Leading the Revolution", and Cluetrain Manifesto gave business leaders a shock when they realised that they no longer controlled the conversation with their customers - the Internet had changed that for ever!
Inspiration can be found in many places, and to succeed you need to harness it. Ask T-E-N how.