For news today, we’re taking a look at Halloween! Halloween, like many big events, is an opportunity to link marketing to the holidays, even for B2B companies. Here are a few Halloween posts from popular brands to help you get inspired, but there are also lots of ways that you can create unique Halloween content yourself – without needing too much money or arts and crafts. Have a little fun with it!
But now onto our main topic for the day: Market research! Businesses that haven’t done a lot of research in the past may not be sure where to begin when it comes to research topics – or why research is so important for a marketing campaign. So we’re talking about it!
Main Topic: Important Primary and Secondary Research
Let’s start off with something easy and basic: The difference between primary and secondary research. That’s right – it can be helpful to divide research types into primary and secondary so businesses and their decision makers understand the differences.
Primary research is all about firsthand information. In other words, you are asking people – particularly your customers but also others that are active in your industry – directly what they think or what they like. Primary research can take many different forms, but common examples are focus groups, online surveys, and phone interviews.
Primary research is useful because it’s very current: You’re getting a snapshot of what people think, right now, which is great for making decisions. It’s also very targeted – you can choose exactly who to gather information from so that the results are as accurate as possible. Additionally, thanks to the rise of online polls and similar tools, it’s never been easier to collect primary research. Plus, when you are finished with it, there’s an option to publish your research as valuable data that shows thought leadership!
Of course, there are also some costs to primary research. Even with affordable digital tools, primary research takes a significant time investment. It can also be difficult for a single business to reach a lot of people at once, which may affect the results of the study.
Secondary research is the research that others have done, but which is still applicable to your business. This type of research has become very popular online, where it’s accessible and easy to filter out results that you don’t need. Common examples include trend reports, market statistics, sales data, and other studies released by organizations.
Secondary research can give you a very broad look at the industry, which can be helpful for spotting important trends and creating long-term strategies for what you want a business to become. However, because of this secondary research will not be as applicable as primary research of your own customers. The most current secondary research is also often locked behind subscriptions and paywalls.
Businesses frequently start with secondary research because its more comfortable – everyone is used to doing at least a little research online, right? Secondary research is an extension of that, and doesn’t involve learning new tools or asking customers questions. When businesses start thinking about primary research, it’s often helpful to partner with another business or agency that has experience in collecting primary research and can help brands create surveys or poll plans.
Defining Your Target Audience
Whether you are dealing with primary or secondary research, it’s important to define your target audience! Many businesses assume that their target audience is, well, anyone that wants to buy their stuff. But in practice, researching a target audience is a valuable first step – and one that can hold many surprises for businesses. If this is something you haven’t done yet, we can help you. Good target audience identification involves:
- Buyer personas: These personas help identify just who you potential buyers are.
- Buyer behavior: This involves studying your current buyers, how they buy, what buyers the sales team spends time, and similar factors, to help classify them more accurately.
- Buyer lists: Target audience data also includes predictions and contacts for potential buyers that are the kind of people that would make a purchase, but have not yet.
Identifying Industry Competitors
A discussion about market research wouldn’t be complete without mentioning industry competitors, and how to learn more about them. Competition research begins by identifying your industry (this handy G2 list helps out a lot of businesses that we work with), and then finding businesses that are competing for sales with your brand.
We also want to point out that a business competitor and a “content competitor” may not always be the same thing. Content competitors are those posting online content that’s similar to your own and can take traffic or attention away from your own content. These are often real-life competitors, but the content can also come from businesses that don’t have much in common with yours, but create similar online content for their audiences. Some in-depth Google searches can reveal a lot here, especially the top results for specific search terms that show where people are heading – and what you’re competing against.
As always, we’d love to hear from you about what you think! Contact us on social media @21handshake and let us know what kind of research you do! If you are interested in learning more, we have an on-demand webinar about online marketing messages that you can try out whenever you are ready! You can learn more here.
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