Which insights projects should I include in my B2B marketing plan?
July 15, 2020
From time to time, marketing decision-makers ask us for advice on how they can ensure that insights are adequately built into their marketing plans.
Of course, our advice depends on the client, the situation, and the industry. However, some recommendations are common to all clients, and we thought it would be useful to summarize them here…
#1. Start by exploring what matters and who your customers are.
We all know that successful marketing propositions align with customer needs and wants. However, businesses often rely on guesswork and assumptions about what those needs are.
Research is a great way to turn guesswork into knowledge. You mustn’t just ask respondents what they think is essential. People don’t always really know why they do what they do.
So, when exploring needs and wants, use a variety of smart techniques:
- For qualitative research, use projective questions – click here for more
- For quantitative research, use statistical techniques that help to deduce what truly motivates behavior. It’s not always what you’d assume or what customers tell you
Of course, not all customers are the same. Typically, B2B organizations segment their customer base by criteria that can be found in their database – think size, activity, sector, spend, etc.
The reality is that customers who have a similar profile in a database can have very different needs, wants, or attitudes. Segmenting by need or attitude leads to better ROI – marcomms resonate, propositions have greater appeal, and new products see higher demand.
Read more about B2B market segmentation research here.
#2. Make sure you are monitoring how you are performing.
Once you know what matters to customers, you then need to check that you are meeting their expectations.
That is why any marketing plan should include some budget for monitoring the performance of your organization over time. B2B brand tracking studies provide metrics regarding overall performance and performance in critical areas of the proposition so that you can optimize your approach and set targets.
Generally, agencies recommend that one of the metrics you measure is Net Promoter Score (NPS). Our view is that NPS is not always relevant in B2B markets, as the nature of loyalty is different, so it should be used with caution, if it is used at all.
Read more about how to track perceptions here.
#3. Try to identify what is on the customer’s mind, and position yourself to stay relevant.
Research can help you to stay on top of what keeps your customer up at night. For example, it can help you to identify the trends and threats they are responding to.
Having that knowledge can help you to empathize with your target audience, allowing you to build messaging and products that resonate.
But you can go further. Creating content about how to respond to these trends and threats can help you become a thought leader on these topics.
Read more about B2B thought leadership research here.
#4. Explore what your brand ‘means.’
To develop and manage a resonant, differentiated brand, you need to understand what your brand ‘means’ to the market.
But the research shouldn’t stop there. It’s also important to understand:
- What the brand could mean by looking at where it is and isn’t credible, and where it could stretch to
- What the brand should mean by looking at desired brand attributes and behaviors. That can help to set an aspirational brand positioning
Read more about B2B brand development research here.
Chris Wells is a B2B marketing researcher and strategist. He was previously on the management team at B2B research specialist Circle Research, winners of the Best Research Agency at the 2016 MRS Awards. Chris has helped to deliver hundreds of research and strategy projects for B2B organizations.