Make Marketing Happy: Be Prepared for These Questions

This blog post is based off a B2B Market Research podcast episode.

Make Marketing Happy: Be Prepared for These Questions

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Each question I will discuss was pulled straight from our database of Key Intelligence Questions. Each question in the database comes from a real-world research effort.

In today’s podcast, I’m going to talk about the questions that B2B marketing leaders want market researchers and competitive intelligence teams to answer.

Each question I will discuss was pulled straight from our database of Key Intelligence Questions. Each question in the database comes from a real-world research effort.

Understanding Marketing Leaders

Marketing leaders are one of the most frequent stakeholders in market research and competitive intelligence efforts.

The thing is, their world is changing.

One study shows that for B2B companies, social media spending is set to climb from 8 percent to nearly 20 percent over the next five years. Only 15 percent of these companies can quantitatively prove that that spend was a good idea.

The same study showed that the number of direct reports to your average marketing manager is falling, as well as the total number of indirect reports.

Word Cloud Marketing Strategy

Basically, B2B marketing managers are having to do more with less. A few examples:

With all this as a backdrop, what are the questions that marketing leaders wish they had an answer to?

Your research team can help by anticipating the sort of questions marketing leaders are already asking themselves. With that in mind, here are some real questions that I bet marketing leaders would like the answers to:

How do I merge my social marketing with what the sales team is doing with social selling?

If you went to your average marketing conference today, there’d be a huge number of sessions on social media.

What you may not know is that your average sales conference, especially for B2B, now has a large number of sessions on social selling. These two campaigns, in essence, need to find a way to meet. This is an area where you can help with custom research efforts focused on buyers, partners, sellers, and influencers.

Is lead scoring changing?

An email is no longer considered a lead for a lot of B2B companies. Rather, they want to see the analytics that prove that that customer has made a journey through the content the company has provided and that the customer is engaged with that content. They want the analytics to indicate that customers would like for sales to talk to them.

In sum, B2B marketers are going to be asked to do a level of lead scoring that they haven’t done in the past.

With all of these changes, do I have the right number of staff?

Marketing leaders have to consider this question from either or both an in-house or agency standpoint.

Do I have the right amount of budget?

There are a myriad of financial questions to consider:

  • How do I show the ROI on the marketing projects I’ve spent all this money on?
  • If I’m going to outspend the CIO, how do I prove that my spend was worth something more valuable than the IT project it otherwise would have gone to?
  • Is the category we focus on as a company at some risk?
  • What’s my competitive landscape today?
  • Where are we positioned in buyers’ minds?
  • Do I have the right Martech Stack?
  • How do I benchmark my stack in comparison to the competition so I’m not missing out?
  • Am I spending on the right kinds of assets?
  • Have I bought the right solutions? Am I even aware of the right solutions?

All of these are great potential research studies.

Do I even have the right skills, given all the changes that are occurring in marketing today?

It used to be that marketing was really one part writing and one part creativity. That’s no longer the case.

Marketing teams are looking for everyone from predictive analytics wizards, to personalities that intuitively get social, to your traditional folks who really know how to write.

Do our buyer personas need updating and if so, how and why?

Buyer personas are a huge area of focus. A lot of tech sector clients are wondering whether they need to update their buyer personas because their products are changing so rapidly. This is especially true for a lot of our clients who offer cloud solutions where their product will consistently evolve over time.

When it comes to updating buyer personas, it’s also important to consider whether the competitive landscape or the entire market sector or category is changing in some important way.

What percentage of the buyer’s journey is marketing funnel (vs. sales funnel) in my industry or segment?

Perhaps historically, you may have thought that a lead remains inside the marketing funnel for 10-20 percent of the buyer’s journey. But now, that may be upwards of 50, 60, or 70 percent depending on the industry vertical or segment that the marketing manager is looking at.

It’s a big question: how much of the buyer’s journey for your company’s focus area has “gone marketing?”

What channels should we invest in?

The major channels that B2B companies focus on are also shifting in priority. In-person events once held a high level of prestige- held up in part by their potential exclusivity. Traditionally, these types of events have long been a hallmark of most go-to market efforts. However, for many companies, there is a declining emphasis on these types of events. They’re still part of the mix, but it’s worth putting some thought into how they should best fit in.

Social media is shuffling its role too. It has become so standardized that it’s really just one channel among many and not a strategy unto itself.

How do we best keep up with mobile?

To keep up with mobile, we obviously need a responsive website that looks good on mobile. But we also have to consider how customers are going to want to engage with us on our site, whether we need a mobile app, and a million other related questions.

All of which could lead to a study or a solid conversation with a marketing stakeholder.

How should we deal with ad blocking?

If the marketing manager you’re working with has made a heavy investment in ads in the past, they know that the ad war has begun.  Consumers and businesses are now able to block a number of ads through a variety of third party tools and platform options.

Hence, B2B focused marketing leaders are wondering how to react:

  • Should ads be devalued in the marketing mix?
  • Is there a way to still have those ads seen by a large number of businesses?
  • Is a stalemate the outcome to hope for?

What role should email marketing play?

Email marketing is another traditional player in the marketing mix.

There are a ton of questions that you can help out with here:

  • Is your email marketing working, converting, and engaging?
  • What needs to change in order to generate more engagement?
  • What kind of marketing do businesses want to see?

All of the above are solid points to raise in your next conversation with stakeholders.

Where can I make cuts?

Your average marketing leader is going to realize that they can’t invest in all of these areas. Spreading their focus across too many areas is likely to lead to failure. Rather, successful marketing leaders know to choose certain areas to focus on. You can help them do that with the research you conduct.

How can I effectively promote my content?

Marketing leaders tend to invest heavily in content, so naturally they have a lot of questions around content marketing.

Here are just a few common questions:

  • What’s working?
  • What isn’t?
  • How do we avoid content shock? Even if all of our content is great, are we actually putting out too much so it can’t be consumed in a meaningful way?
  • How do we do more with video? This is going to be an area where a lot of marketing teams are going to jump to focus on. But you should consider whether it’s smart for them to do video in the first place.
  • If video is a go, what’s the right way to do it? Again, this is a great research study that you can ask current customers and competitor customers.
  • How is my content being used by sales? Is it actually part of the sales funnel vs. the just being part of the marketing funnel? (This is more for internal research.)
  • Is the content brought up by the sales team, or by customers when they’re engaging with sales?
  • How do I get that level of feedback?

The questions I have shared in this post (and associated podcast) have popped up again and again in the B2B market research studies that serve as our bread and butter. Hopefully, they will also help prepare you for your next study commissioned by a marketing leader.

This podcast is brought to you by Cascade Insights. We specialize in market research and competitive intelligence for B2B technology companies. Our focus allows us to deliver detailed insights that generalist firms simply can’t match. Check out our podcast for more B2B Market Research episodes and articles.

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