How to Obtain Relevant Data through Backward Market Research

The pandemic has rendered many data sets irrelevant due to changing consumer trends and behaviors. But sports and entertainment organizations can update their insights or start fresh in three simple steps.

The last few weeks have been pretty interesting. I’ve been on a lot of Zoom calls with partners in Australia, who are asking me what to make of old data sets, how to make decisions now from historical data, and thankfully, how to get folks back into full venues.

This brings up two questions: What does our old data mean now? How do we get relevant data today?

Let’s take a quick look at both of these questions so that we can move forward with a clearer understanding of our markets and what our data can tell us about them.

What does our old data mean now?

The old data we were dealing with likely isn’t very valuable anymore. For a couple of reasons.

First, the pandemic has accelerated a number of trends that were already taking hold before the pandemic began, like ordering more groceries and food through mobile apps, greater worker flexibility, and spending on streaming content delivery.

Second, we are going to be dealing with the fallout of a pandemic. Historically, these kinds of events only happen once every 100 years, meaning that unlike a recession, we don’t have a playbook for what the other side of a pandemic looks like.

Third, we will be entering an environment where we have dealt with a pandemic, social unrest, economic issues, and mental health issues. Folks are going to likely see games and gatherings through an entirely different lens.

Maybe in a good way, maybe in a bad way. We just don’t know. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that if you felt like your organization was behind in how it managed data or used data, you have a once in a lifetime opportunity to start over and get it right.

How can we get started?

Let’s discuss “Backward Market Research” – a phrase coined by Georgetown University marketing professor Alan Andreasen in the 1980’s. This philosophy has changed the way I conduct research and has helped me turn piles a data from a headache into insights.

We can break the method down into three simple steps.

Step 1: Begin with the end in mind.

Start with an understanding of what you want the research to show you or explain.

Let’s take a simple example I’ve used with several clients during the pandemic. Many of my clients have wanted to understand how the pandemic was changing corporate buyers’ buying habits. The ways that these buyers think will and won’t stick after the pandemic is over. A pretty important consideration and one we can easily build research around.

Step 2: Figure out how you want to present the data.

Do you want qualitative answers? Graphs? What exactly is the best way to see the answer to your question?

It is simple. You want to pick the representation of the data that is going to enable you to get the best answer for your situation.

As an example, I conducted a study of the audience that reads my weekly ticket and entertainment newsletter Talking Tickets. The open rate of the newsletter is typically around 50%, and the growth rate is around 2% per month. I wanted to know why so I could do more of what I was already doing.

Step 3: Design the survey around the answers to the first two questions.

In my case, I decided to go with a survey of my NPS Score. The NPS Score is a simple number that measures whether or not folks would recommend your product or service to someone else. It is often used as a proxy for customer satisfaction, the higher the number the better.

That’s simple quantitative research. To add a qualitative element, I also included a simple question asking why people gave me the score and asked them if they’d be willing to answer my follow-up questions.

This element gave me both forms of research and a more holistic view of my audience, which I could use to improve the newsletter and continue to grow it.

As we move through the pandemic, this concept of “Backward Market Research” is key to getting relevant, actionable data. It really is as easy as 1, 2, 3.

How is your organization obtaining relevant data?
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