Market smart, that is.
The communications lesson for the day is "know your audience." If you want your message to be meaningful, you need to understand what's important to prospective buyer.
Think you already know what’s important? If you've been working in an industry for a while, you probably have a hunch. And you may be right. But why not ask and confirm your thinking? You'll get information "straight from the horse's mouth," and you'll avoid relying on assumptions that could be wrong. I recommend investing in research before gambling with the marketing budget, especially when you’re looking at major steps like changing direction or introducing a product.
True story: A client’s design engineers were convinced the key benefit of a new product was lower operating costs. However, interviews with prospective buyers showed us they were much more excited about the product’s “artificial intelligence.” Our introductory campaign, built around this “smart” message, was wildly successful.
There are lots of ways to get smart about what buyers want. The best ones involve asking prospects questions. This is primary research – and gives you the freshest results. Here are the methods you could use:
Description: A small group (5-9 people) of qualified participants meets to discuss a topic and/or react to a product or idea. Discussion is led by a moderator who follows am established Discussion Guide. Groups may be observed via one-way mirror and may be audio and/or video taped.
Advantages: Provide immediate feedback; can help identify issues; lots of control over who participates; can probe and get clarification.
Disadvantages: Small number of participants so results are qualitative not quantitative; high cost; difficulty recruiting qualified participants.
PHONE or IN-PERSON INTERVIEWS:
Description: Qualified respondents are individually asked a defined series of questions. Interviews are usually conducted by research professionals. A monetary incentive is offered to participants.
Advantages: Fast turn-around; interviewer can clarify answers and probe for more information; easy to segment participants; can provide quantitative results.
Disadvantages: Cost; difficulty identifying qualified respondents; difficulty getting phone numbers.
(Earth mail, e-mail, fax, and Internet)
Description: A standardized questionnaire is sent to qualified participants. An incentive may be offered.
Advantages: Relatively low cost; can yield quantitative data.
Disadvantages: Results may be unreliable since respondents self-select; difficult to segment participants; slow turn-around (especially with Earth mail); no opportunity to clarify and probe; difficulty getting email addresses.
Most of these methods require the use of research professionals. Internet and email surveys can save money on postage, but you should have a pro design your questionnaire and strategy so you get usable information.
However, if your budget and audience are small, you may be able to do informal research. Here's what I mean. Think of 3-5 questions that will help pinpoint prospective buyers' hot buttons. Call your top customers and prospects and ask away. You'll have great conversations, and you'll learn something each time you talk to someone. Develop a matrix of everyone’s answers to learn even more.
About the author
Claire Cunningham, The Marcomm Mom™ of Clairvoyant Communications, helps companies jumpstart their sales with increased visibility. Visit http://www.clairvoyantcommunications.com and sign up for her monthly e-newsletter, Marketing Communiqué. Contact Claire at 1-763-546-0479, 1-612-709-6845.