Did you know? 70% of respondents are spending more today on direct branded content than they did three years ago.
It is that time of year, summer is behind us, fall has arrived with pumpkin flavored everything, football, and 2011 planning. As we work with clients to help form marketing communications strategies or allocate marketing budgets, now is the time we recommend including research into the budget. There are plenty of elements in a marketing plan where custom, primary research can play a part, but here are my suggestions for three areas that can really make a difference:
1) Advertising messagingA lot of companies make the mistake of talking about product "features" in their marketing and advertising materials, but the audience is left wondering, "what is in it for me"? Instead of citing product attributes, a stronger message is to describe the actual benefit of the product. And if you aren’t sure of your customers and prospects critical concerns, you can’t effectively communicate how your product can address those concerns. There are various types of research that can be done to test out which messaging resonates the most with your audience. Depending on your campaign it could be in the form of A/B testing online ads with different messages, tracking each to see which performs better, or a survey that is specifically designed to uncover the importance of various market/product factors.2) Website upgrades/revisions – User TestingDo you know what your audience loves, hates or is ambivalent about on your website? If your website was built by committee and without input from your end users, consider allocating budget in 2011 to do some user testing. There are several methodologies to accomplish this research which can vary based on the goals of your site, but gathering information from real users will allow you to create a solution that meets their needs and expectations. Some of the examples of this type of research include: surveys, personal interviews, user observation testing, card sorting, and prototype testing. A good resource for learning more about these methods can be found on a site managed by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
3) Where does your audience seek information? A couple of years ago, Twitter, Facebook and other social media channels were not even on the radar of B2B marketing communications. In today’s constantly changing media environment it can be easy to jump on board with the newest trend, but you should understand where the majority of your audience goes to get their information. Are design engineers utilizing FourSquare? Are commercial architects utilizing apps on the iPad? It is a very fragmented landscape, and unless you have large budgets to effectively use all these media channels, doing research can help narrow down your focus.
Of course there are many other uses for B2B research, as Jim Castanzo outlined in an earlier blog post but these are three definitely worth considering including in your 2011 budget.