4 free sources of marketing research

February 13, 2023
B2B Brand strategy

The demands on a marketer’s time are only increasing; launch campaigns; a drive to grow the bottom line; an overwhelm of new information in the form of analytics and market segmentation studies; and so on.

With so many competing demands on your time and resources you need to know that the actions you do take are going to succeed at moving the business closer to growth.

One of the key ways to drive tangible outcomes for your business, and at the same time gain the attention of the executive leadership team, is by identifying bulletproof insights backed by valuable data.

Underpinned by these insights, your communication strategy will reach the people you need to reach in the way that they will respond. Without these insights you are, at best, continuing to deliver the same results via the same strategies you used in 2015, and at worst, shooting in the dark.

So how do we draw out invaluable insights?

Last year we published a post on the most cost-effective way to conduct research, which is, without a doubt, finding a way to capitalise on the information that already exists in your business, and it’s been one of our most popular blog posts to date.

In brand research terms, this style of research is referred to as desk research, and it’s cost-effective, accessible and builds context that will inform your strategic planning.

The good news is that this kind of data is likely easy to access – the key is knowing where to look.

Where is the data?

1. External market research that has previously been commissioned

Maybe you had a new product launch a year or two ago that you commissioned customer insight for, or perhaps you conducted a competitor review. This data may still be relevant, and in all likelihood, you may not have revisited the findings of those reports since they were first delivered.

2. Research from other departments

Too often we in the corporate world think in silos, and valuable knowledge gets lost as a result. It’s very likely that other departments will have conducted their own research that you may not be aware of – and within this information there is bound to be important data that can be used to drive your strategy. Common locations for this kind of research include; global head office, your sales and business development teams, or HR or People and Culture teams.

3. Capitalising on professional memberships

Consider whether you have access to industry reports through certain memberships to industry associations you or your business may hold. Many professional bodies and industry organisations conduct and publish their own research which can provide a wealth of useful data.

4. Existing industry whitepapers

A comprehensive online search is likely to uncover various industry white papers, some of which will incur a charge, but it’s usually a fraction of the cost of conducting the research yourself. These can contain valuable data commissioned and collated by those with an understanding of your industry, and access to significant research capabilities and budgets. Some examples include companies like the ABS, Mercer, IBISWorld, Investment Trends and others. Your key competitors may also have released reports and whitepapers as part of their content marketing strategies. Google will doubtless uncover a treasure trove of hidden information.

Now comes the hard part, turning data into understanding

Taking data and transforming it into trends and insights that educates you about your target market is a real skill.

Insight’ has become one of the great marketing buzzwords of the last decade – turning it into an overused and meaningless cliché. Yet true insights are both powerful and precious, and elevate your information into an invaluable business tool.

True insights uncover the reasons driving behaviours, impact what your customer might do in the future, apply knowledge and judgement to facts, and are interesting, informative and actionable. They are also elements that are frequently missed.

To begin to facilitate the extraction of useful insights, ask yourself the following questions in relation to the data you now have:

  • What are the key findings?
  • What key themes and commonalities emerge?
  • Does anything jar or not make sense, and warrant further investigation?
  • What holes are there in the information available? Are there any simple ways to fill in these knowledge gaps?

Understanding what the data is and is not telling you will mean that you can make informed decisions in relation to your strategic plan, and understand whether more targeted research is required to create a complete picture.

Ready for the year ahead

Through this process you will likely have created a library of valuable information that relates to your business, and hopefully you will now have drawn out insights around who you are targeting and how you can interact with them in a way that generates cut through.

At the very least, you will know where your knowledge weaknesses lie and be armed with a plan for what needs to be done to take the business forward.

Unfortunately there is no silver bullet for identifying insights – and sometimes, an outside lens can help bring a new perspective. At BrandMatters we regularly help our clients to distil and synthesise data that exists within their business. If you need help translating your research findings and key themes into insights that will transform your business we would be happy to assist.

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