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Research: The unsung hero of B2B marketing

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Research. If it won an Oscar, it’d probably be best-supporting actor. In a rock band, it’d most likely be on drums. Or backing vocals. And in a Michelin-star restaurant, it wouldn’t have its name over the door. The chances are it’d be a sous chef.

Research is never usually centre stage. We decided to change that and sat down with expert researcher Suzy Timms to find out about the state of research now, and how much it can benefit your campaigns.

Research in B2B marketing is seeing a bit of a resurgence. Why?

In a word – relevance. Business and technology buyers have more choice and content than ever. Now, trying to cut through with a compelling product or service and a stand-out message is tough.

Research has always been about putting the customer first. It forces brands to think beyond their own products. They have to provide insights into buyer pain points and aspirations. This allows them to better shape their marketing strategies and breathe relevance into their content.

When so much information is available online, why engage in primary research?

We’ve all been down those Google rabbit-holes searching for that elusive insight, stat or proof point.

Brands need to listen to their customers. They can use it to hone an authentic brand voice and build campaigns that really resonate.

What kind of marketing programmes can research support?

Any kind – from concept and product development, through to customer satisfaction and competitive differentiation. In B2B, research plays a major role in content marketing and inbound programmes.

It’s often used to create “hero” content, focused on driving top-of-the-funnel awareness as well as providing detail and validation as buyers move closer to purchases. Every marketer has something to learn from their customers. Research formalises this curiosity, giving confidence and clarity to brands.

Full-on research reports seem slightly old-fashioned now. What’s the latest way of highlighting valuable insights?

It depends on the audience. What you want them to do? How you want them to feel? Choice is key. There’s a place for “full-on” research reports, which are often gated for the more detail-hungry reader. Infographics are still a popular tool for getting attention. Animated infographics and diagnostics are great ways to get people to interact with data. Podcasts and webinars are good ways to share research-based stories with business audiences. And the use of “info bytes” in social media as content appetisers can also be effective. I’m keen to see how video and virtual reality can be used here too.

How can research help in the quest for thought leadership?

Research should be thoughtful and thought-provoking. It should challenge the status quo, not simply describe a market. It needs to be grounded in challenging questions with the right audience and based on credible data.

Finally, you can’t be a thought leader without “thought followers”. Be pragmatic in translating research into action and using it to drive business value for customers. It can make a big difference.


Bio: Suzy Timms

Suzy is the founding director of Insight Avenue, a specialist B2B research consultancy that uses research to inform strategy and deliver engaging content.

Suzy’s the founding director of Insight Avenue, a specialist B2B research consultancy that uses its findings to create strategy and deliver engaging content.  She has worked in research, PR and integrated marketing agencies, with clients that include technology companies of every size.  With 20 years’ experience of B2B research; she’s highly skilled at the fine art of putting creative and commercial together to give her clients better results.

Find out more at www.insight-avenue.co.uk


This post formed part of our B2 Magazine. If you haven’t seen this, check it out here >

Trish Harriss

About the author

Trish is joint MD of DirectionGroup, and specifically oversees the B2B side of the business. She is a passionate and results driven marketing and communications professional with over 20 years experience gained on both client and agency sides. Follow her here on Twitter.

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