Now more than ever, businesses have a wealth of data they can tap into. This can assist them in the day to day running of their company or to highlight areas ripe for development. It can also keep them ahead of their competitors.
With this in mind, we have partnered up with B2B telemarketing specialists, Blue Donkey, to discuss why good market research is so valuable in shaping an organisation’s success. Whether it’s to identify strengths and weaknesses in a business, to better understanding the needs of clients, or as a tool for making decisions around business development, targeting, or differentiating factors. There is no doubt that professional market research can be hugely beneficial to the strategic direction an organisation takes.
Regular market research can provide a steady flow of up-to-date, reliable data about the really important areas to the business. With Blue Donkey’s expertise, this article explores a snapshot of how effective market research can help today’s marketers achieve their goals in the face of constantly shifting landscapes.
Explore new markets and customers
For any business to be truly successful and fulfil its potential, it is important to start by looking at new markets and evolving your offering as trends, wants and needs change. Technology is continually progressing at alarming rates and this always has an impact on your customer needs.
Understanding existing customers is a fundamental element of a successful business. Knowing your customer likes and dislikes, and their rationale for choosing your products or services can be invaluable for enabling new market development initiatives. Researching your customer base to understand who they are, what they do, how they are similar, how they differ, their demographic, their sector, their spend levels and much much more can help organisations understand who their product or service appeals to most so that it can be specifically targeted at that group. Marketers call this ‘heterogeneity’. Finding clients with similar needs and preferences can help them package products in a way and at a price that fits new customers and new markets perfectly.
There are several ways you can approach engaging this segment of a market. For example, you can look at the channels that resonate with them. This may include Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn that can be used for targeted advertising. Alternatively, purchasing new and up-to-date data for direct mail or email campaigns may be a far more effective way of reaching your target audience. Once you know the channel and the profile you can become more targeted. As a result, you can be more efficient and streamlined in your marketing activity. This will make your sales team unbelievably happy.
Improve service delivery
Most markets, whether it’s selling products or service, have a level of saturation. Due to this, it is important to really set yourself apart from your competitors to ensure your business thrives.
In 2019, there are very few products or services where an organisation can honestly boast a truly unique selling point. At best, individual companies will have particular features or benefits that competitors haven’t quite mastered in the same way (the same but better or easier to fathom). Knowing where your product or service has the edge over your competition is an important enabler of future development. Whether this is faster delivery times, pricing, particular product features, understanding the appetite for your product or service in comparison with those of your competitors is a great way to maintain a competitive edge.
Probe information that is delivered unwittingly
Most of us assume our customers are happy by virtue of the fact that they’re not complaining. The fact is, on many occasions, we have seen this not be the case. By the time the organisation has identified an issue, it is often too late with the customer who may already be in discussions with competitors or have signed contracts elsewhere.
By asking the right questions and listening carefully for information that is delivered unwittingly, as well as that which is freely offered, companies can really get to the bottom of how their business or their products and services are perceived by their client base. For example, asking customers if they are happy with your product or service might generate a yes answer. But if you gently probe that information, it’s quite possible that the customer is happy enough to pay your next invoice but not happy enough to stay with the business at contract renewal time. So asking the question ‘are you happy with the service’, and following that with ‘tell me a bit more about your experience as a customer’, might in fact generate an entirely different picture, and possibly one that helps you avoid losing that customer to a competitor.
As we talked about previously, you should understand what your competitors are doing well and make sure your company is doing it better. Even in this digital world, human interaction customer service can revolutionise your retention rate.
A mixture of open and closed questions
This might sound like the very basics, but it is always the first area where organisations can become too comfortable. It is not unheard of for Customer Success Managers/Account Managers or whoever the main customer contact is, to fall into less than desirable practices.
This is where outsourced market research comes into its own…
Effective market research can be a costly component of the marketing budget if the questioning methods used are not carefully managed. Closed questions will help generate answers that can be easily analysed and understood by the use of a graph or table. However, closed questions are not great for probing the information that might be lying below the surface of the answer.
Open questions usually begin with the words ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ as they give broader, more expansive answers. But too many open questions can lead to a huge amount of analysis work because the only way to extrapolate data is to tag certain keywords and build the anecdotal answers into a picture that is representative of what all the different respondents are saying. Using a mixture of open and closed questions offers the ideal opportunity to get a more complete picture that can be presented in the form of a simple report.
A piece of market research using mainly closed questions, (these are the questions that generate a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer), or a piece of concrete data such as age groups, can be pulled together into a series of graphs, charts or tables. The answers will be easy to understand and concisely represented numerically. Usually, the number of people researched for this kind of exercise will be high, and typically a piece of research using these methods will be referred to as quantitative market research.
Market research using open questions tend to have lower numbers of respondents involved, with the idea that with each one you’re getting more insight and deep diving on a particular subject matter which is then analysed in order to produce a report containing more textual, anecdotal or non-numerical information. This information will be called qualitative market research.
Ideally, a combination of the two will be used in particular for business to business market research as it offers the advantage that you can drill down on areas where a customer might have more to say.
Companies that take the time to conduct regular market research will identify opportunities and problems as well as understanding competitive behaviour much more quickly than those that don’t.
In summary, analysing all aspects of your business and the markets that you are working in or wanting to expand into, can make the difference between growth and at best, standing still.
Written in partnership with Blue Donkey, the B2B Telemarketing Services Specialists.