We often get the question: what are some examples of the kinds of B2B market research projects? Well, we find that many of the projects we get commissioned for will often fall into one of these five main categories. And with these types of research in hand, organizations are better equipped to make more effective business decisions. Here’s how.
If you were to look at, let’s say, what are some of the most canonical examples of B2B market research – you know, project archetypes, if you will – what might those be? I would argue that there are about five, and the first one to focus on would be buyer persona research.
Buyer Persona Research
Buyer persona research is incredibly common when you look at B2B market research initiatives, and there’s a reason for this. The buying committee in B2B is somewhat complex and it’s somewhat sizable. You’re talking, you know, five to six people at a minimum, sometimes might be upwards of 10, and there’s a lot to kind of probe there, right? Who’s basically a main decision maker, who’s an influencer, who’s basically somebody that doesn’t have a big role, but we thought they did perhaps in the purchase process.
And when you interact with these folks during a research study, you’re trying to figure out what messages will resonate with them, what approaches resonate with them, where do they go for information. Again, you know, what role do they have in the buying committee at different points in time? Maybe their role is really fundamental at the start of a purchase funnel, but maybe not so much at the end.
Another thing about buyer persona research is it’s done typically qualitatively. I’d say almost universally, it’s done qualitatively, and that tends to be a lot of in-depth interviews with the folks that you’re targeting. So you might have eight to 10 interviews with each persona, and then you’re gonna roll that up into a set of findings.
Another really canonical research effort is message testing, and you could summarize this as you know, am I saying the right thing? And it does dovetail pretty well with buyer persona research, which helps you understand who to target inside a particular buying committee. And now you wanna understand maybe more in-depth what are the right messages that I should send down range.
And so when it comes to message testing, you’ve got kind of a mix of different ways that it’s done. You tend to see focus groups used a reasonable amount when it comes to message testing. So here you get a collection of, you know, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 people in a room, and you ask them basically what’s their impression about a messaging framework and different elements of messaging that an organization has and whether it resonates. Maybe you’re showing advertisements that they have, things like that.
Another typical example of B2B market research is brand research. So here you’ve got an organization that very much wants to understand what is kind of the level of awareness and consideration about our brand. You know, because obviously if somebody already knows your brand before they talk to you that’s gonna be a big thing. That’s gonna be a big win because they’re like, oh, I’ve heard of that company before. But if you’re constantly fighting an uphill battle where they’re like, I’ve never heard of you guys until you approach me, well, that’s a different problem to solve. So it’s very typical for marketing leaders inside B2B organizations to wanna really understand the state of their brand and then to track that over time.
So as they make changes in their own marketing strategies and tactics, they can get a good kind of read on whether that’s impacting that level of kind of awareness and consideration and other factors that go into a brand study. And, if some of the other things we talked about are traditionally a little more qualitative, a brand study is typically going to be more quantitative in nature. And so you’re gonna have things like, you know, an online survey and stuff like that.
Competitive Landscape Analysis
Another canonical project type is a competitive landscape project. And so when you think about a competitive landscape project, what you have here is an organization that’s trying to really understand kind of how different competitors play in the marketplace with them. You know, basically what’s driving, you know, success or failure from a competitor standpoint. Are there sales strategies or marketing strategies or product strategies that competitors are pursuing that you should either mimic or find a way to defeat? And a competitive landscape effort is kind of a mix, probably more traditionally it involves qualitative research. So interviews with competitor customers, maybe even some ex-employees, for example, like ex-sellers or folks like that who used to work for the competition. It almost always involves a degree of kind of secondary research or what we call open-source intelligence research.
And then it can sometimes include quantitative research, although that’s a little less common. Because it can be a little challenging to get basically enough competitor customers aggregated so that you can have a big enough sample that you could actually shoot a quant survey at it and be effective in that way.
Key Buying Criteria Research
And then finally another one is what we sometimes call key buying criteria research. What you have here is an issue where a product development team doesn’t want to just mimic the features of the competitor. They don’t want to just build. All the features they might ever consider because that’s not a good use of resources.
But what they wanna do is they wanna build the features that matter and they wanna steer clear of the ones that don’t matter. And so here what we’re trying to do is we’re really trying to get prospects and current customers to clearly articulate what are the features they actually use consistently in a solution that they purchase or that their organization uses.
And, and equally in perhaps even more important, what are the features of, in this case, maybe competing solutions that aren’t used that much because it can be very, difficult to sometimes discern if a competitor is let’s say, touting a lot of features, which ones actually are driving sales for them versus which ones don’t really have that big of an impact and there’s no reason to consider developing a, like feature. And you know, so that, that can be a very powerful form of research for let’s say a product development team or something like that.
Making Better Business Decisions with B2B Market Research
In sum, these are just five of the major archetypes that I think happen, you know, every day. When you look at organizations who are fairly invested in B2B market research initiatives and their impact crosses the gamut, of course, right?
Some of what I talked about will impact kind of marketing leadership. Some will impact sales, some will impact executives, some product development. But in the end, all of these organizations, can make more effective decisions and they can Act With Clarity™ when they’ve got really strong research on hand that answers these kinds of business questions.
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