A client recently asked me if their demographics were sophisticated enough, or if they should do more market research. Here’s the spiel I gave them:
Market research can be a cop-out. If you face a difficult decision – say, how to allocate a marketing budget – it feels good to harbor a fantasy that enough research will alleviate your anxiety about making the wrong decision. This fantasy rarely pans out.
Information is only useful insofar as it is actionable. Information that you cannot act upon simply clogs up the decision-making engine in your head.
So how important is it to know that your audience skews dramatically female?
If you are allocating a media budget of hundreds of millions of dollars, the answer is “very”. You’re going to be blanketing vast swathes of the population with your communications, so achieving some sort of efficiency by favoring women over men will optimize your efforts. For instance, instead of buying space in Maxim, you’ll buy space in Glamour.
If you’re allocating a media budget of less than a million dollars, the answer is “not at all”. You’re not going to waste any of your money reaching a mass audience; you’re going to target the kinds of people who have behaviorally demonstrated an affinity for your product or service. If you sell golf equipment, you’re going to buy ads in golf interest magazines.
None of this is to say research isn’t important or you shouldn’t look at your analytics data. Those disciplines are vital. But still…
Only pay attention to information you can act upon. That isn’t just a marketing lesson; it’s a life lesson.