Researching your target market is core to any successful B2B marketing and communications program. The only way to break through the pervasive noise is to focus your message on what prospects and customers care about. Nowadays, attention is the most precious commodity.
In my years working in the IT sector, I have seen brilliant technologists think they already know what their intended market wants. I have seen passionate sales professionals representing just one or two customers’ concerns as what every customer believes or needs. I have also seen many companies make large investments in unsuccessful campaigns, launches and even product lines – because they didn’t go to the source to find out if what they were offering – or how they were messaging it – resonated with the audience they wanted to attract.
Today, the stakes are simply too high to guess. You need the insights that can only be gained from asking customers – and opening your mind to the feedback you get. Warning: It may conflict with some preconceived notions.
Before you undertake a research effort, here are three things to consider to make sure your study delivers the findings you need:
- Know your research goal. Some companies embark on a research study without being really clear on what the result should be. Different internal stakeholders may envision different outcomes; some may get to the end of a study feeling unclear or dissatisfied with the gathered information. To avoid unproductive efforts, it is really important for all relevant stakeholders to understand the study’s goal and know what they need to obtain the most productive results. For example:
- Are you looking to inform your go-to-market strategy by understanding particular issues your target market cares about?
- Do you want to take an industry thought leadership position and demonstrate a current perspective on a given topic?
- Is there a particular issue around which you need insights, such as how your product is perceived in a competitive context or how a new service offering is valued?
Don’t try to accomplish too much through one research effort. With respondents’ limited attention spans, studies need to be as brief and to-the-point as possible. That’s why being clear on the goal is so important.
- Have a plan for how you will use your research results. Will you publish a rich report to share with your market and the media? Will you create multiple assets (i.e., an eBook, social media or ad campaign, or an executive presentation) that leverage the findings? Will you only use the data internally to guide product roll-outs? We always recommend maximizing your research investment with a well-thought strategy that incorporates findings and insights across as many channels as possible. Having that plan ahead of time will also help garner clarity among the stakeholders who have a vested interest in the outcome.
- Select the right methodology. Do you want a quantitative study that will yield figures and statistics to show trends? Or a qualitative study that will yield the deeper, richer insights that come from person-to-person conversations? Perhaps you need a combination of both – drilling down on quantitative findings through follow-on depth interviews, or starting with interviews to uncover issues that you can test through a broader survey. Decide which approach will best help you meet your goals and target the right kind of respondent.
When you are ready to jump in, W2 Communications’ senior team will work with you to develop and implement a research initiative that gets to the heart of your critical business requirements. We guide you through the entire process, from question design and study execution to expert analysis and thoughtful recommendations. We will always support you with engaging research that you can leverage across as many marketing channels as you need. Contact us for more information or to get started!