Reflection is at the heart of success. You need to know what was working in the first place to be able to keep building on your achievements.
This article is based off a B2B Revealed episode.
You can listen to the episode or read the article below.
With that in mind, we decided to look back at our top content of the year. We used a combination of podcast plays, article page views, and social shares to determine our top 10 posts. I’ll give a quick summary of each topic and then consider why it resonated with our B2B tech audience. I’ll also highlight a few unique resources that we’ve shared in 2016.
For each of our most popular posts, you can check it out in either an audio podcast format or read our article on the topic.
#1 Ask Your Rivals’ Customers.
Competitor customers are treasure troves of insight. If you conduct in-depth interviews with them, you’re likely to learn why you missed out and how you can have the winning solution the next time around.
They can tell you:
- How satisfied they are with the competitor’s product or service.
- Why they picked the competitor in the first place.
- What could persuade them to come back to you.
- If there is a need that is not being satisfied by any current solutions in the marketplace.
In this podcast, I shared the questions that can uncover these insights. I think the questions were what made this podcast so popular. Most people who have been exposed to market research probably have an inkling that it’s important to hear from competitor customers. Interviewing them is only effective when you know what to ask though.
#2 Take The Pulse of #Mrx.
Coming in at second place was the podcast titled “Market Research Today: The GRITty Quirky Details.”
Market research may be a niche field, but it’s an important one. Titanic shifts in the B2B tech industry can often be traced back to the findings of an explosive study and companies’ course corrections, innovations, or redirections in response.
However, with all the confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements tied to the field, researching the state of research itself is a pretty arduous task.
During this podcast, I reviewed the findings from the 2016 GreenBook’s GRIT Report and the 2015 Quirk’s Corporate Research Report. (The Quirk’s 2016 report had not yet been released at the time of this podcast.) In this episode, we discussed some of the most interesting statistics from each report.
For example, we wrote that one of the most fascinating areas covered in the 2015 Quirk’s Report was focused on how suppliers fail to execute. The top three problems found by the report were:
- “Vendor over promised and under delivered.”
- “Project was handled by low-level staff.
- “The vendor didn’t take the time to understand our business.”
Whereas the GRIT report revealed a delta between buyers and sellers of market research with certain approaches. It found that:
- 55 percent of buyers were using big data analytics while only 35 percent of suppliers were.
- 60 percent of buyers were using social media analytics while only 45 percent of suppliers were.
Everyone I talk to wants to know what it’s like outside of their own company, their corner of the industry, and so forth. These reports give us that kind of perspective. They allow us to see the research techniques that others are using, the relationship between vendors and suppliers, and so much more.
#3 Shun The Pie Chart.
My interview with Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic on her book, “Storytelling With Data: A Data Visualization Guide for Business Professionals” was also quite popular.
- The importance of defining the audience of your presentation more thoroughly than just internal or external stakeholders.
- Why graphs aren’t always the most effective way to communicate your point.
- The best time to use line graphs, bar graphs, and tables.
- Why Cole says that pie charts are evil.
- How to structure an effective presentation.
Everyone wants to generate more impact with the research findings that they have, so it’s no wonder that this was a popular episode.
We’re going to be seeing more and more data-driven presentations in the years to come. The tools and tips Cole shares will help to fine-tune these presentations and ensure that data is used responsibly.
#4 Master The Buyer Persona.
In the fourth position, we have the podcast episode “How To Make Praiseworthy B2B Buyer Personas.”
In this episode, I covered the core questions you need to answer for a praiseworthy buyer persona. A few examples are:
- What makes B2B buyer personas different than B2C ones?
- How does the buyer persona self-educate?
- How does the buyer persona develop a shortlist of potential vendors, products, or solutions?
If you don’t know your buyers, you aren’t going to get very far in business. Unfortunately, buyer personas are typically so high-level that sales teams and marketers can’t make good use of them.
Praiseworthy, useful buyer personas can be developed, though. They just need to answer the questions I’ve laid out in this episode.
#5 Is Your Team Proving Its Worth?
“Five Reasons Companies Kill Their Market Research Teams” also got a lot of traction.
Over the past 10 years, I’ve seen a lot of large companies’ internal market research teams come and go.
In this episode, I covered the five main reasons that I’ve seen client-side market research teams die.
- The lack of a professional services mentality.
- Absent or outdated buyer personas.
- The prioritization of kingdom building over engagement.
- Unclear team roles.
- Leaders that smother innovation.
I received a lot of direct praise for this piece. A few different folks told me that they had been part of teams that had failed for one or more reasons we discussed.
I also had the opportunity to deliver the core themes of this podcast as a conference presentation at a major research conference. The attendees also said that they had faced and tried to surmount many of these same challenges as members of client-side teams.
While this podcast painted a dark picture, it appears that it hit the mark.
#6 Creative People Procrastinate.
At the sixth position, was the podcast “B2B Book Review: Get Original with Ideas, Risks and Procrastination.”
For this episode, I reviewed Adam Grant’s book, “Originals: How Non-Conformists Move The World.”
This book has great insights for researchers and stakeholders of all kinds.
I delved into a few key points from the book such as:
- Non-conformity matters, even in a business context.
- Even successful entrepreneurs pack a parachute, so to speak.
- Some of the greatest thinkers in the world first produce tons of ideas before arriving at and honing their single greatest achievement.
- Procrastination can lead to originality.
“Originals” has continued to generate a solid amount of good book reviews, so, obviously, that contributed to this episode’s success.
Plus, for our audience, the book is a particularly good read. It highlights how anyone, regardless of their position, can provide original ideas and help their company thrive.
#7 Suss Out the Secrets of SaaS Success.
“The Smartest SaaS Questions at Quora” was also a big hit with our audience.
I’ve always been a fan of Q&A platforms. I co-own a firm that is all about asking the right questions of the right respondents. In this episode, I turned to Quora, one of the more well-known Q&A platforms, to gather some of the sharpest questions being asked about SaaS companies in a public forum. The questions I selected were the ones I found the most interesting, and that, in my opinion, were the most relevant to our clients.
I think this podcast was popular because while Q&A platforms are great, they can take a lot of energy to navigate. How do you find the best questions in a sea of questions? How do you sort the good answers from the cruddy ones? How do you recognize a great answer? How do you find insights that line up with your industry or area of expertise?
Answer: you have someone curate them for you in advance. We did that for our audience in this post.
#8 Leverage Your Channel.
With “Pump Up Your Partnership: Nine Questions For Your Channel,” I shone the spotlight on partners.
For many companies, partners are their lifeblood. Partners drive sales and generate new opportunities. However, their needs are often overlooked.
With that in mind, I walked through a series of questions designed to help companies better understand their partners as well as the partnership opportunities they should target in the future. Here are a few examples:
- How should you keep your partners educated about rapidly changing cloud service features and capabilities?
- How many of your partners are running with the enemy?
- How do your partners want to hear about new opportunities?
There just isn’t a lot of insightful commentary out there when it comes to the relationship between vendors and partners. Most of what you see is high-level and based on ideas that are merely conventional wisdom. Meanwhile, the questions in this piece were based on those we’ve actually used in many real-world studies. I think that’s the reason that this post stood out.
#9 Will AI Ax Your Job?
“Will Market Research Jobs Survive The AI Revolution?” a newer episode, also made our top 10.
In this episode, I reviewed “The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts.” This book gives hope for staying relevant after the artificial intelligence revolution that will surely come.
Some folks in market research fear the machines and others can’t wait to work with them. This piece and the associated book are a worthwhile read for either audience. I think that’s why this post caught on so quickly.
#10 How to Win C-Suite Friends
“ How To Speak C-Suite: An Interview with Nic Read” was another great episode. I spoke with Nic Read, a managing partner at SalesLabs. He’s also the co-author of “Selling to the C-Suite: What Every Executive Wants You to Know About Successfully Selling to the Top”.
- How to engage with C-Level executives for B2B market research studies.
- What happens to the buyer’s journey when B2B marketers rob their salespeople of conversation opportunities.
- The distinct and separate roles that B2B marketers and sales teams should play.
- How B2B market research vendors should respond to RFPs.
The popularity of this podcast is clear. Everyone we work with on the client side eventually deals with the C-suite. They’ll encounter the C-suite either as part of studies that target current or potential customers or because they have to deal with their own internal stakeholders. The C-suite always matters, so understanding how they think and how to relate to them is always going to be a good thing.
Bonus Stocking Stuffers
Before we wrap this year, I want to point out three great resources we recently launched as well.
- 101 Market Research Questions. Over the last decade, we’ve done projects for scores of marketing and sales leaders, product and channel managers and C-level executives. As we looked back through our research, we began to see certain questions pop up over and over again while others gained importance with present day events. We found ourselves with a hearty collection of typical questions from various personas. So, we decided to create a new resource, a curated list of popular research questions.
- One-sentence B2B book reviews. This resource covers a wide range of business books that you should pay closer attention to. We also helpfully let you know which ones you can skip. Each review fits into one crisp sentence. You won’t have to spend too much time figuring out why we considered a book a winner or a dud. We’ve also got links to our in-depth reviews and interviews with some of the featured authors.
- Self-paced corporate research training packets. We just released training packets on topics such as the buyer’s journey, developing great findings, lessons from industry thought leaders, and asking stellar research questions. For each topic, listen to or read a collection of curated posts designed to keep you up to speed on the sharpest research practices and B2B technology business insights.
In closing, it’s been a great year for Cascade Insights. Our employee base has grown, we’ve moved into a nicer and larger office space, and we’ve expanded our client base by nearly 50 percent this year.
Finally, I just want to say thanks to each and every listener of this podcast and/or reader of this blog. I truly appreciate your support.
As the calendar rolls into 2017, I, along with the entire Cascade Insights team, will be working hard to provide the best insights, book reviews, and interviews that we can. Thanks for listening and reading and have a great New Year!
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. Got a B2B tech sector question? We can help.
Image used courtesy of Cara Slifka / Stocksy.