When most think about conducting market research, they are just thinking of the core questions they want answered and the information they need to move something forward. They have a goal in mind, and market research is a way to reach it. What many don’t consider is how market research can, and often does, function simultaneously as a marketing tool.

Any research that involves surveying, interviewing, or moderating focus groups of your customers or constituents draws their attention to your organization. You are engaging your customers with your brand, and you’re doing it in a very positive way: by asking for their opinions. You signal that you value their input, ensure you’re providing something of value, and are determining what you can do better.

The degree to which you engage with your customers or constituents varies, of course, dependent on the type of research. Interviews and focus groups create a large amount of bandwidth between you and the customer. Interviews and focus groups are personal and lend to a deeper and less restrictive dive into your customers’ opinions – as a result, your customers feel empowered. Surveying, while impersonal, allows you to give more people a voice, even if it is a smaller one.

In the end, you’re giving a voice to your customers. You’re creating another touchpoint that allows them to share their opinions and be heard. The next time you think of conducting market research, consider how you might be able to fully maximize your investment by best engaging your customers.