It’s that time of year again. The holidays have arrived, along with 2015 planning. As we work with clients to help form marketing communications strategies or allocate marketing budgets, now is the time we recommend including research in 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 where it can really make a difference:
1) Advertising messaging
A lot of companies make the mistake of talking about product "features" in their marketing and advertising materials, but the audience is left wondering, "What’s in it for me?" Instead of citing product attributes, a stronger message is to describe the actual benefit of the product. Figuring out product benefits stems from understanding your customers’ and prospects’ critical concerns. But what if you don’t know which direction to take in communicating with them? Fortunately, 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 testing
Do 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 2015 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.
3) Where does your audience seek information?
A few 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 information. Are design engineers active on LinkedIn? Are commercial architects utilizing apps on iPads? 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 and go directly to where your audience is engaging.
Of course there are many other uses for B2B research, but these are three investments definitely worth considering including in your 2015 budget.