B2B Marketing Strategy Requires SMART Research

Use small research projects to improve referrals and communicate value

According to a recent informal poll of professional service marketers, we found that they spend time researching industries, but not much time researching their competitors or buyers. The poll was taken during a webinar we presented on smart market research.

Without researching your competitors, you don’t know how to differentiate your value proposition against theirs in conversations or in proposals. The decision for buyers comes down to price and basic first impressions. Who wants to compete on price?

If you don’t research your buyers, you don’t know what they really care about or how they expect professional advisors to solve their problems. Understanding their challenges helps you guide the purchase decision.

We presented the market research webinar because our professional clients are challenged to communicate value to fee-sensitive buyers. If you’re ready to stop competing on price, let’s talk about how market research can help you.

Are you ready to survey your clients now, but need a strategy? Click here.

Why do I need research?

By looking at the patterns of how people choose and buy professional service providers, you begin to understand how your communication needs to change to land referrals, increase visibility and get new business. But you don’t need big data to figure that out. You can conduct some smaller-scale, SMART market research as part of your b2b marketing strategy. SMART stands for these pieces of your market research:

  1. Strategy.
    Why do you want to — or need to — conduct research? What is your end game?
    What information are you missing for decision-making that this research can support? Use your strategy to guide the next steps of the process.
  2. Methodology.
    What vehicle will you use to collect the data you need? Is it a survey? Interviews? An outsourced expert? What questions are you asking and why? What’s your budget?
  3. Action.
    What is the timeline and logistics of conducting the research? What happens after your collect the data? Who is in charge of overseeing the collection of data in process to make sure it’s thorough and meets goals?
  4. Review.
    Who has the expertise to review and draw conclusions from the data once it’s collected? Who can translate what it means?
  5. Tell the World.
    In what ways will you leverage this data to take action? Will it be internal action or external action or both? Who is in charge of communicating the conclusions and who will confirm the accuracy of the communication?

    Using the SMART acronym for your research, you can also delve into the world of Google analytics and start finding out how people are coming to your website, what they are searching for, which sites drew them in, and what that says about what you should deliver on your website.

    For example, you may already have some (or many) key phrases you are using to rank well on Google. But that means nothing if they are the wrong key phrases. You need to really understand how your buyers think when they have a need.

    Does a real estate developer really type in “tax services” or does that potential buyer type in, “tenant retention strategies?” Think about it.
    Market research will help you determine how your buyers are thinking about their needs and even which articles you should write to answer their questions. Big data is here, and it can help you predict the next big business opportunity. But you have to be SMART about it.

View a case study.