B2B Marketing

Market Research – Your Roadmap for Success

What exactly is market research? Why is this powerful tool important for your business? Market research provides valuable insights on what people will buy, why they’ll buy it, and how to incite them to buy. It’s also used to answer the age-old question, why do your customers choose YOU? In this blog, I’ll highlight why market research is so critical to your business, as well as provide you with key reasons why you’ll need to hire a professional marketing agency for unbiased research.

Why conduct market research?

Market research sets your company up for success by providing the information that you need to make informed business decisions. Experience alone is not enough; arm yourself with research and facts to understand your market and your customers. Market research can help you:

  • Understand your customers and their preferences
  • Identify potential issues you may not be aware of
  • Understand how your customers define your brand
  • Identify ways they value the services/products you provide
  • Learn how your customers compare you with your competitors
  • Test new products/services and/or new markets
  • Gauge the success of a new advertising campaign
  • Identify performance, pricing and/or promotion opportunities
  • Monitor the competition in your market
  • Keep up with the changing marketplace and economy
  • Mitigate risk in your business decisions

Market research methods

When conducting market research, there are basically two types of methodologies:

  1. Qualitative researchis information that comes from conducting deep “quality” research through the use of discussion guides, and is typically gathered via phone interviews, face-to-face interviews, or focus groups. Questions are typically developed by use of a discussion guide outlining issues or concerns you’d like your customers to weigh in on. The answers can help you understand why they chose your company to work with, what they value in your service/product, what they think of your brand, and how they respond to your marketing/advertising. This type of research is best used when you want to understand the needs of your customer so you can better target your marketing and messaging to their needs and values.
  2. Quantitative research is usually numeric, and done through a survey. It is far less detailed and there is no discussion with actual customers. It involves sending out a survey to customers and gathering statistical information, which can then be extrapolated to give you averages and percentages, e.g. 9 out of 10 customers are satisfied with your level of customer service. This type of research is best used for measuring customer feedback on an ad or a new service, or the launch of a new offering.

What unbiased research means

Almost every business owner I know says that they know their customers, that they speak to them on a regular basis and if there was a problem, their customers would tell them. Sorry to say, but this is rarely the case. Just like we don’t tell the server that the food was really bad, our customers may very well give us a truthful answer, but more likely they will give us a version of the truth. When a third party speaks with your customers, they feel this is their opportunity to really share the “truth” without hurting any feelings. If you are asking your customers directly then this is 100% biased research and is considered invalid because you have a vested interest in them being satisfied customers. Unbiased research doesn’t allow opinions, nor preconceived notions or preferences to affect the research. It is conducted with an entirely open mind and not biased in any way towards a desired outcome.

Market research benefits to your business

We’ve been conducting market research for almost two decades and I know how it can positively impact a business by providing actionable insights that can act as a catalyst for organizational growth. These insights will equip you for better decision-making and provide you with a greater understanding of customers, and competitors. Market research can help you to maximize the potential of your current business activities and create a roadmap for targeted marketing strategies and future growth. Every business, large or small, can benefit from having market research in their arsenal. 

Use a professional agency to conduct market research for your company

Market research is not a DYI project. It’s very time consuming and requires trained and skilled resources to perform, analyze and deliver results without any research bias. Set your business up for success and hire a professional marketing agency with proven processes, resources and analytics to maximize the potential of your market research.

CreativeWorks Marketing will work with you as a trusted partner in achieving your business goals. As a first step, we’ll establish clearly defined goals for market research in addition to determining what you need to know and why. We’ll perform, analyze and deliver results of the highest quality and keep the data confidential. Contact us today and let’s discuss how market research can benefit your company.

3 Ways to Leverage Instagram for Your B2B Business

1115_instagram_365_244colo-24-42-70-10Over 400 million people are on Instagram these days. This creative, visually led social network is rapidly becoming a place where people engage with brands and share content. Yet, many B2B companies dismiss Instagram as not being right for their brand. Instagram doesn’t immediately come to mind when you think of B2B marketing, but there are huge opportunities to promote your brand values.

Storytelling has become a great way to give B2B brands a personality. Storytelling is about connecting with your audience and moving away from the self-centred, sales-orientated advertising that just doesn’t work for B2B brands anymore. The key to leveraging Instagram as a marketing tool for B2B brands is to not think of it as a marketing tool at all.  Instead, you want to think about Instagram as a way of telling your story as part of a larger online marketing strategy. Here are three ways that Instagram can help you tell your brand’s story:

  1. Establish long-term connections

B2B brands need to embrace the fact that marketing on Instagram is less about selling the benefits of your products and services, and more about establishing deeper connections with people including industry thought-leaders, employers, and prospective clients. Instagram is about building and maintaining awareness of your brand. Think of Instagram as a way to grab the attention of industry influencers and potential clients at a time when they’re not really in work mode, as they’re not going to be interested in being sold to.  This is your chance to seamlessly integrate your brand values into their Instagram feed.

  1. Humanize your brand

Another way you can give people an insight into your company culture is to use Instagram to offer a behind-the-scenes look, as people love seeing what goes on in other offices. It can be as simple as snapping a quick photo at your company’s event, or taking a photo of one of your employees to publicly wish them happy birthday. B2C brand’s social media channels thrive on being relatable and yours should be too.

  1. Contribute to the conversation and be part of the community

As well as interacting with clients’ photos and comments, responding to big news stories, industry developments and trending hashtags can be a great way to engage your followers and show the world that you have your fingers on the pulse. Give your brand a personality through comments and thoughtful posts in the public space.

Take the time to understand the benefits of using Instagram to communicate your brand’s values to potential clients and industry influencers, if you’re looking for new ways to engage with your B2B community.

This visually led social channel might have its roots in B2C marketing but, with over 400 million subscribers, you might want to take a look to see if this platform is right for your B2B business.

5 Tips to Evaluate Whether an App Adds Value to Your Brand

CWM_Sept 22When we talk about apps, we often focus on the consumer application. Without a doubt, apps have provided a lot of value in the B2C market, but as a business owner who deals mainly with B2B clients, I wanted to address the value of utilizing an app for the B2B market.

If you’re a B2B owner thinking of creating an app for your business, in addition to asking yourself if there is something specific that you can accomplish with a mobile app that you can’t with your website, you’ll want to evaluate the need for an app in terms of adding value to your brand.

I’ve outlined below a few areas to consider when evaluating whether an app will bring value to your brand:

  1. Provide a direct marketing channel

A mobile app essentially narrows the gap between you and your customer. It reduces the steps that your customer has to go through to reach you. You can use an app to make it easier for customers to pay bills, place orders, book meetings, or get rewards.

  1. Showcase products and services

You can use an app to showcase your products and services. This would be especially useful if you have a comprehensive product offering. Customers can shop for parts, accessories, and features through the app. The great thing about apps is the ability to send notifications to the user’s smartphone or tablet device. The benefit of that is that you can increase the likelihood of your customers discovering featured products and services.

  1. Customer service and support

An app can also be used to provide customer service and support directly to your customers. You can build a messaging feature that allows customers to reach you directly. You can also offer resources, such as instruction manuals or help guides, which can help your customers access your products or services.

  1. Brand extension

Increasingly, mobile phones and tablets are becoming the primary tools for accessing the Internet. The change has been most profound in the consumer market, but as these mobile computers become more powerful, businesses are increasingly relying on them to do work. An app can extend the reach of your brand by making it easier for these mobile users to access your business.

  1. Stand out from the competition

Mobile apps at the small business level are still rare. If you can add value through the app, then the app can be leveraged as a point of differentiation from your competitors.

The greatest benefit of an app in the B2B space is the ability for customers to engage with your brand by offering them a benefit that they then tie to your value proposition. An example of this is through reward apps. Reward apps allow businesses to know more about the buying habits of their customers by giving them reward points towards free merchandise or services. If there is a perceived value of your app by the customer (i.e. reward points), then there is a greater likelihood that it will succeed!

Do you see the value of creating an app for your business? If so, will you take the next steps to creating one? If not, what is holding you back?

Client Referrals: Don’t Ask… Don’t Get

Many SMB owners describe client referrals as one of the hardest things they have to do. No matter if they receive client emails thanking them for their service and singing their praises, very few see that feedback as marketing opportunities to ask their clients for referrals.

With November drawing to a close this week, I can’t think of a better time to set up face-to-face meetings with your existing clients to wish them well for the holidays, discuss their plans for the new year, and ask them for a referral.

I am not suggesting in any way that we substitute client referrals with other lead generation tools such as social media, landing pages, online marketing, QR code campaigns, etc., but there is no better lead than a “warm” lead or “endorsed” lead from an existing client.

Although many business owners feel comfortable asking their clients for a testimonial, when it comes to referrals they seem to steer clear.  I’m not sure if it’s that they are shy or just afraid of the client reaction, but referrals are not only a fantastic source for lead generation, they are “free” and therefore should be included in every marketing strategy.

Here are a few tips I’d like to share with you to help you approach your clients and get the business referrals you deserve:

  • Book a face-to-face meeting with your client. People will always be more likely to do something for someone else if the person is standing right in front of them. Although it is acceptable to ask for referrals by email or phone if you’re in a situation where a face-to-face is not possible, you will have greater success when meeting in person.
  • Use the upcoming holidays as an opportunity to set up this face-to-face.
  • Make it a more casual setting – since it is holiday time, a lunch offer would be nice with the idea to thank them for their business and also to connect on plans for the new year.
  • During your holiday lunch or coffee, and after you have discussed their business needs, be as sincere and direct as you can be and say something such as, “I’m really glad that you’re pleased with my work. I’m always looking for referrals and wonder if you know anyone else who might be interested in _______ (what you do).” If they do offer names, take them down and ask the person if they mind if you contact the people directly or if they would prefer to pass your information along to them yourself.
  • Another approach might be to add: “May I leave a few of my business cards with you in case someone comes to mind?” Leaving extra business cards with a person makes it easier for them to pass your name and contact information to someone else.
  • Keep this meeting upbeat and never ask for a referral when presenting your client with their invoice.

It does take some effort and possibly courage to approach your clients for referrals, but the effort promises great rewards.

How have you asked for referrals? Do you have any approaches you would add to this list?

Steps to Making Your Online Campaign a Success

A large part of marketing these days involves developing some type of online marketing strategy. Online marketing can mean something as simple as using Google AdWords, or placing an ad on LinkedIn or Facebook, to generating an ad to be placed on a trade publication website.

The goal of online marketing is no different than that of any other advertisement: to increase brand awareness and find potential customers, in order to increase revenue and growth.

The huge advantage of online campaigns is that they are digital, and you can improve and adjust them throughout a campaign to help you achieve your objectives.  The other advantage of online marketing is that you have the ability to easily track and measure your campaigns by the day, hour, or even minute (if you really wanted to).

Generating leads and customers not increasing site traffic are indications of success and by tracking and measuring the success of your campaign, you can determine if your objectives are being met, and if not, you can adjust your campaign to meet them.

One example of how quickly you can react to an online campaign is to run an advertisement on a trade publication’s site, make note of the click through rate, use Google Analytics to track the traffic to your site and referral sources, and finally, to look at the conversion rate of traffic to leads.  If you see that there is a low click through rate, you might need to rethink your ad. But if you find you have a high click through rate, and high traffic, but see no leads being generated, then something is happening on your site that stopped a potential customer from becoming a lead. This might mean you need to make a change not to the advertisement, but to the mechanism that was designed to convert the traffic into leads.

Before you start planning your next online campaign, determine if you have the time and resources to properly monitor its development and success.  You might want to consult with a marketing agency, which can provide you with the insights and expertise necessary to make your campaign a success.

Over the past 20 years of marketing for small and mid-sized businesses, I’ve developed a number of questions that you should take under consideration before launching any online campaign:

  1. Clearly outline the goals and objectives of your campaign (e.g. increase leads by 5%, 10%).
  2. Identify which publication the ad should appear in (target the campaign to the audience).
  3. Clearly outline the time your campaign will run (1 day only, 1 week, etc.).
  4. Create an incentive offer, whether that is free product or service; leads increase depending on incentives.
  5. Put a tracking mechanism in place. That way, you can measure the results and make improvements to your marketing strategy as you go.
  6. An ideal tracking mechanism is Google Analytics. It is free to use, and is one of the most powerful online analytics tools available today. (It tracks much more than website traffic, as displayed in my example).
  7. Before the campaign launches, offer your campaign offer to existing clients.
  8. Post in your social networks the day you launch the campaign.
  9. Track your campaign by the hour, day, minute, etc.
  10. If you are not seeing the results you want, look at the flow of the campaign. Are there any ‘sticky’ places? See if you can make any adjustments to get your campaign ‘unstuck’.

Online marketing can generate the leads you are looking for, but you need to consider not just the message you’re sending, but also how you have planned to convert the message into a lead gen tool.

Do you have any questions on Internet marketing? What has been your most successful online marketing campaign? Or have you had any negative experiences with online marketing that have helped you to re-strategize your methods for future online campaigns? Feel free to share your questions and stories in the comments below.