Leveraging Market Research for PR and Lead Generation
When you think of market research, what typically comes to mind is the gathering of intelligence to facilitate product decisions and shape go-to-market strategy. You survey customers, study competitors, and track market trends to collect data that will help guide and support your decisions. This is market research in the classic sense.

But there are other valuable and often overlooked ways to use market research that can greatly benefit your company.   In the article, “Leveraging Market Research for PR and Lead Generation” GlobalSpec Vice President of Marketing Services and Product Management Chris Chariton explains the benefits of packaging and distributing results to three distinct audiences – the media, your customers and your prospects. 

Chris’ Corner

Chris Chariton BioLeveraging Market Research for PR and Lead Generation

By:  Chris Chariton

When you think of market research, what typically comes to mind is the gathering of intelligence to facilitate product decisions and shape go-to-market strategy. You survey customers, study competitors, and track market trends to collect data that will help guide and support your decisions. This is market research in the classic sense.

But there are other valuable and often overlooked ways to use market research that can greatly benefit your company. For instance, you can conduct market research and package and distribute the results to achieve three distinct benefits among three audience groups: the media (to enhance public relations efforts), your customers (to improve relationships), and your prospects (to help generate leads).

Keen Interest in Research Results
The media is always interested in numbers and trends from survey data. You can summarize your market survey results into a press release and distribute it to relevant media outlets. They will often pick up your press release if your research results are of interest to their readers, or even contact your organization for a follow-up story. The ensuing coverage will help build your company’s credibility and visibility by positioning you as a respected and knowledgeable industry leader.

You can also combine your research results into a white paper or executive brief. The white paper offers a great value for your existing clients as part of your ongoing customer communications efforts to keep your brand top-of-mind. And put the white paper on your Web site and offer a download to prospects as part of a lead generation campaign.

GlobalSpec has been using market research successfully in this manner for a number of years. For example, we conduct an “Industrial Indicator” survey annually. This survey asks respondents from the industrial sector about their company’s revenue projections, economic concerns, business outlook, outsourcing trends, key issues and other matters.

While the data collected in the survey may not have direct application to GlobalSpec’s business strategy, it is still useful as a barometer of the business climate and is of special interest to the media, our customers and users of GlobalSpec. The results are picked up by a number of media outlets and used in GlobalSpec white papers that are widely read by customers and prospects. By aggregating the data in a survey, you maintain client confidentiality, which can be a concern. And the bigger the sample size, the better the trend report to an editor.

Who Should You Survey?
Conducting this type of market research does not have to be expensive. A third-party research firm can make it a turnkey project and add additional credibility, but you can also be successful fielding your own survey. There are many cost-effective and easy-to-use online survey tools that allow you to create and distribute surveys, as well as collect, aggregate and report on the data.

Try surveying your own customers or prospects, providing links to surveys on your Web site that visitors can easily see, working with partner organizations, or sending surveys to members of associations you belong to. You might want to specify an end date on the survey, to create urgency and to allow you to develop an accurate, timely report.

It’s a good idea to offer people an incentive for completing the survey. For example, you can put everyone’s name that completes the survey into a drawing for prizes, such as a popular business book or the latest electronic gadget. Also, offering everyone who completes the survey a copy of the aggregated results is another incentive.

Picking Fruitful Topics
Your research topic is an important decision and will affect your survey response rate and the level of interest in your results. Look for “hot” topics that are currently getting frequent play in the media or your market space. By tying your survey to an existing trend that is relevant, you are helping editors who are covering the trend for their audiences.

Here’s an example from GlobalSpec. We recently conducted an “Internet Usage” survey of engineering, technical and industrial professionals. The survey included questions about the use of blogs, podcasts and other social networking media — all of which have received a lot of press in the last year or so. Pundits often predict the rapid growth and widespread adoption of these media types.

However, GlobalSpec’s survey revealed different results. We found that among our audience there has been very little use of blogs and podcasts to date. Because they countered popular belief, the results of GlobalSpec’s survey received a good bit of attention and media coverage.

As is often the case with research, sometimes the more you learn, the less you know. If surveys reveal market situations, they can create opportunities for follow-up surveys. Offering that to the media or including it in company newsletters make for a serialization that can get you additional coverage, or create an interest in your corporate communications pieces. The ultimate conclusions can be packaged into a larger document that can be selectively offered to prospects via your sales force or the Web.

If you are conducting a survey, remember to ask questions that your audience and the media are interested in — not just what your company is interested in. This way, your audience will be more likely to complete the survey and the media will be more attentive to the results.

With increasing attention and interest in your research findings, your company will experience greater visibility and position itself as a respected leader while it learns more about key customers. Market research can be more than internal intelligence to drive your business decisions. It can also be an effective way to build your brand, offer added value to your customers and prospects, garner press attention and generate leads.

By: Chris Chariton

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