Trying to do marketing without good research is like trying to drive while wearing blinders. To effectively appeal to its target consumers, an organization must do these things:
Truly understand the people in its target population.
Ensure that target consumers know that the firm exists.
Fine-tune its products and services and its presentation of them to strongly appeal to specific groups.
Get the most bang for any promotions by crafting them to appeal to consumers who offer the most payback.
These accomplishments require sound research. Perhaps you lead a private school and want increased enrollment. Perhaps you work in a government agency and want to increase safe driving habits. Perhaps you're in a corporation and you need more customers.
Identical principles apply. You need to thoroughly understand a typical member of your target audience and then couch your branding in terms he or she cannot resist.
It boils down to research. Qualitative research, perhaps including focus groups, one-on-one interviews and consumer observation. Also quantitative research-surveys, polls, consumer panels, etc. To reach your goals, research is key.