5 things B2B marketers should know about research

Leaves are falling; there is a chill in the air. Q4 is officially here, which means marketers are pouring over 2016 strategic plans, jostling for more budget and excitedly exploring new initiatives and tactics.

Before you go spending the soon-to-be-refilled comms coffers on fancy marcom tactics (think video production, advertising, web design, etc.), take a moment to consider these tips on making market research an effective element of your 2016 plan.

1. Build a database, and then put it to use.
Do you have a formal process for collecting contact information from current customers and prospects? It's never too early to start building a database of potential research participants. Ask around. See if other departments keep a database of customer information. (Hint: Ask the sales team.) If you strike out internally, partner with a research consultant like BC that can help you brainstorm ways to establish, grow and diversify your list.

2. Stop the guessing game — get the proof.
An educated guess is still a guess. Investing in a market research project will help uncover reliable and concrete insights on which to build a strategy. Research provides answers required to confidently implement 2016 plans. For example, BC recently executed a research project for one of our clients, CHR Hansen, a leading food ingredient company. Through this quantitative study, we helped them identify the most impactful advertising placements and test advertising concepts in the U.S. target market.

3. Where there is a will, there is a way.
You have a problem: You have little to no contact with the end user of your company's products or services. This is not a dead end, but a roadblock that market research can help you overcome. In the past, we have partnered with clients to design phased research projects, starting with interviewing the inner circle (think donors, board members, sales reps, etc.) and using their networks to bridge to the end user.

4. Measuring ROI isn't hard when you have baseline metrics.
A new year means new budgets, but it also means proving that last year's investments provided a significant return. Market research is one of the best tools to use to establish baseline metrics that can be tracked year after year, proving the ROI. With market research, we track customer satisfaction, brand awareness, ad effectiveness, media preferences and more.

5. Ads don't start conversations, researchers do.
The best way to start a conversation is to have a conversation. Even the most engaging ads and social media content cannot ignite the colorful discussions market researchers have with customers through focus groups, ethnographic research or one-on-one interviews. Digital technology is a powerful tool, but nothing trumps in-person communication.

— Rachel Haas, BC senior brand strategist