Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

The power of research

Published Feb 09, 2018 04:13pm
How research-based methodologies can help build brands and increase customers.

These days, it is important for businesses and brands to understand their customers better and this can effectively be done through research, surveys, white papers, and reports; all of which can be used as excellent marketing tools.

Take surveys for example. They are the bedrock upon which effective marketing campaigns are built. By using surveys, a business can find out anything they want to know about their customers. But to be effective, the survey needs to be well-designed and the company needs to have a clear understanding beforehand of what it is aiming to accomplish. It is as important to not just study behaviour, activity or habits but also the reasons behind them. For example, a website can very easily track what pages are visited or how long a visitor spends on a particular page, but this only tells you half the story.

Understanding what people do isn’t as important as understanding why they do it. Let’s say that you post an article about beekeeping (an odd example) to your website that generates substantially more traffic than you are used to. From this data alone, one can only guess as to why the article is generating more traffic; is it because your audience has a hitherto unknown passion for beekeeping? Perhaps they’re curious about insects in general? Or maybe because the article was formatted in a particular way or was exceptionally well-written.

Until you understand why you have managed to increase your traffic, you won’t know how to repeat the success. The easiest way to find out is simply to ask using a survey. In this regard, reading the book Ask: The Counterintuitive Online Method to Discover Exactly What Your Customers Want to Buy...Create a Mass of Raving Fans...and Take Any Business to the next level by Ryan Levesque is an excellent resource for gaining a better understanding of what to ask and how to ask it. One lesson from this book is about not asking what people want but what they don’t want. Consider what Henry Ford – the American pioneer of the automotive industry – is rumoured to have said: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”


Apart from surveys, white papers are another option. Focused on a particular topic, a white paper presents a specific problem and then suggests a solution to it. The ground-breaking blockchain technology, which is expected to be worth $7.74 billion by 2024, started with Satoshi Nakamoto (a pseudonym) presenting a white paper, way back in 2008 in a forum, is a good example.


An effective usage of surveys is, of course, dependent upon persuading more customers to fill them out. This can be done by offering gift cards to everyone who completes it. A lot of people will be willing if they think they will get something in return. The other way to generate more responses is via loyalty programmes (such as offering bonus loyalty points that can be redeemed later). This is a fantastic way of identifying your loyal customers.

Apart from surveys, white papers are another option. Focused on a particular topic, a white paper presents a specific problem and then suggests a solution to it. The ground-breaking blockchain technology, which is expected to be worth $7.74 billion by 2024, started with Satoshi Nakamoto (a pseudonym) presenting a white paper, way back in 2008 in a forum, is a good example.

Another white paper – reacting on the 2008 economic crisis – presented an alternative, consensus-based decentralised financial system which can’t be gamed by a mighty few. This white paper set off a chain of events which led to getting more and more rebels, anarch-capitalists, and even billionaires like Tim Draper and the Winklevoss twins (famous for suing Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg and allegedly holding 1% of all the bitcoins that are in circulation right now) putting their trust in this digital cryptocurrency, which in turn made it more valuable.

Lastly, reports. These are an excellent source to improve brand visibility for your business, conduct in-depth research about the nature and state of your industry and publish it in the form of a report. Dinar Standard (a management consultancy specialising in Islamic Economy) publishes an excellent array of reports, infographics, and white papers the whole year round focused on topics like state of the global islamic economy, global Muslim lifestyle and travel among others. According to the CEO, Rafi-uddin Shikoh, the company’s research is their best publicity tool as their reports alone got them tons of publicity from some of the biggest and most authoritative publications and media outlets globally. Also, Kaymu’s report on e-commerce in Pakistan is worth a mention here.

These research-based methodologies can help businesses not only understand their customer-base and competition better but also build their brand as authority-leaders in the industry and, in turn, attract massive publicity.