Jeanelle Johnson, Communication & Social Media Strategist

February 11, 2021

Every February, we celebrate Black History Month and reflect on the significant impact African Americans have had on humanity. Black History Month reminds us of the importance of knowing our roots, and using the wisdom from our past to fuel our futures. It also reminds me of one of the most valuable tools I have at my disposal when getting to know a client — research. Market research can save time and money as it relates to marketing efforts. Social Media scientist and author, Dan Zarrella, warned: “Marketing without data is like driving with your eyes closed.” Could you get lucky when closing your eyes to history or market research? Sure, you may not crash and burn, but you’ll waste a lot of time and resources trying to navigate without a compass.

Research provides me a detailed picture of your current location on the market map. I see you exactly where you are, so that I can help you find the best route to your desired destination.

When doing secondary (or historical) research, I start with your internal landscape.

What’s Documented:

Do you have a documented company history? A vision/mission statement? A business plan? Employee history? Annual reports? What is your brand personality? Your website is a likely source for good foundational information. However, if the website is a pain point (non-existent or outdated), I’ll rely on gathering as much information as I can directly from you.

Social media provides a very telling source of information. It’s both a controlled and an uncontrolled resource. You control the content you create and share, but you have no control over how audiences choose to interact or respond.

Start with controlled content. How many social media accounts do you have and on what platforms? What kind of content do you share? How often do you post or engage on social media? Is the content you post relevant to your brand? Is it unique?

What You Can’t Control:

Now look at the uncontrolled. How are people responding to your content? Are they engaging with the content (likes, comments, shares)? How are you perceived by your audiences?
What are people saying about you (reviews on Google, Amazon, Facebook, Yelp, or others)?

Lastly, I analyze the competition. This is where looking at the people in the lane next to you can be beneficial. I’ll ask who are your competitors and how do you measure up to this competition?

Strengths and Weaknesses:

Once you know how you fit in, it’s easier to see where you can stand out. The best tool is what I like to call “old faithful” — the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) Analysis.

What internal factors provide advantages or disadvantages over marketplace competitors? Assess opportunities and threats. What are the external factors that can help you achieve your goals and objectives? What factors may hinder those goals?

As profound poet, civil rights activist, and award-winning author Maya Angelou once said, “You can’t really know where you are going until you know where you’ve been.” Her statement rings true in many aspects of life: professionally, personally, collectively. We know that if we don’t study and learn from our history, we’re bound to repeat mistakes or miss opportunities for growth.

In order to find the best path forward, don’t drive with your eyes closed. Be honest and objective about your present location. Celebrate what you’ve done right, without hiding or diluting your missteps. Accept triumphs and the failures alike. With acceptance comes growth. With growth comes wisdom. With wisdom comes enlightenment, instruction, and direction for moving into the future.