When you are considering a new product, fundraising, or service campaign, you likely account for things like the audience, messaging, and conversion pathway. Very few organizations are paying for research when they plan a new campaign but almost all will end up paying for it, whether they realize it or not. You see, very few campaigns are a home run upon launch. They require testing, optimization, and refinements to reach their full potential. That is research.
Sometimes research is an unpopular word in the marketing budget. Paying to see what people think, how they respond, and what resonates can feel like an unnecessary expense. However, when a new campaign launches, that is exactly what is being done, especially in the digital space. Savvy marketers will make quick course adjustments based on the data. In this scenario, the cost of research is being paid from the media budget.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. In the old days, more advanced research was done before mailing a message or signing a broadcast contract to push it out there. Big commitments were being made and the feedback loop was long. So, doing research early on could save a big media investment from underperforming. With instant feedback through digital advertising, the risk on that investment is spread out.
So why pay for advance research when you can launch new creative, run it with a test budget, get real data and adjust? In truth, much of the time, this approach works fine. Where it can cause problems is when it is not anticipated. Every new campaign should have a learning phase with a period of time and budget that is devoted to learning and optimizing. Once a campaign is proven, it can be rolled out at scale with minimal risk.
You need alignment of expectations to properly accomplish this, however. Every team needs to know the plan, the time frame, and budgets for the testing phase. As well as what the benchmarks for success are that warrant full campaign implementation. The more clarity and alignment in these areas, the smoother it will go.
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