Knowledge is power. In B2B marketing, knowledge comes from research that delivers valuable insight into market trends, competitors, brand perception, and customer behavior. All research, however, is not created equal. B2B companies—and this includes B2C companies with B2B customers in addition to consumers—operate with sales cycles, marketing rhythms, customer challenges and channels to market that can be vastly different from B2C companies. The successful B2B marketing company must have a deep understanding of B2B target markets, channels, audience segmentation and industry drivers. They must know how to ask the right questions (and who to ask them of) and recognize the nuances of B2B purchasing drivers.
For those launching a new product, company or brand (or refreshing a brand), research is invaluable in understanding customer needs, challenges and preferences, as well as the market and competitive landscape. The more aligned you are with your customers’ thinking and the more targeted you are in your marketing strategy, the more successful you’ll be. Established companies can utilize research as a validation tool to ensure their brand and products are still performing as they think they are, surface any discrepancies in perception, or uncover early signs of negative market trends, competitive inroads or customer dissatisfaction. That validation work can yield much more, however. Even when a company believes they understand their market through and through, insights gleaned from good research can spark creative and innovative product, service and marketing ideas that may never have been explored otherwise—and that’s money left on the table.
Qualitative research takes many forms, including interviews, audits and field observations. When doing interviews, it’s important to get a variety of perspectives from employees, customers, prospects and detractors. The latter are often overlooked, but they shouldn’t be. Ex-customers have already rocked the boat, and they are usually open to telling you why they’ve chosen not to do business with you anymore. You may also find that they would prefer to do business with you, if only you’d make a specific change. Internal interviews are a great source of information on what’s working and what isn’t.
Audits focus on any number of areas, from the industry and market to public relations, messaging, collateral and websites. They illuminate gaps between what you want to be projecting into the market and what you actually are putting out there. Competitive research clarifies where you stand in relation to others offering similar products.
Quantitative research puts numbers on insights. You may find that your new product is right on target with room to grow. On the flip side, you may find that your products don’t align with your customer’s needs, or that your industry is abuzz about Topic A when your products address Topic B. The feedback may be positive or negative, but it’s beneficial either way.
Elevation Marketing firmly believes that research—comprehensive or more targeted to supplement existing client research—is the foundation of a successful marketing strategy. We marry deep expertise in survey development, interview techniques and a variety of audits with comprehensive analysis and thoughtful insights to set you up for success and ensure you get the best return on your marketing investment.