It’s a given that knowledge and insight into your audience is vital to a successful marketing plan. While experience can provide a lot of this knowledge, you also need to keep up with how markets are changing, technologies are advancing, and the emergence of new customers.
To make sure your marketing plan keeps pace, give it an injection of market research.
According to research conducted by IEEE GlobalSpec Media Solutions, industrial marketers conduct market research for three primary reasons:
- To gain knowledge about the marketplace/target audience (76 percent)
- To develop competitive analyses (70 percent)
- To understand existing customers (68 percent)
Entering a new market is the top reason industrial marketers use (or would potentially invest in) market research. The results of market research can help you prioritize marketing investments, improve products, create more effective content, fend off competitors and more. If you have goals or challenges in any of these areas, you likely want to invest in market research.
Primary and Secondary Research
Primary research is conducted by you, or by a research firm you hire for the project. Examples of primary research include focus groups, surveys, interviews and observations. With primary research, you are trying to answer questions or find out information specifically relevant to your company and situation.
Secondary research is the use of previously completed studies, such as analyst reports, scientific studies and other third-party research and content. Marketers must interpret the findings of secondary research to apply to their own situations. It’s relatively easy to find free or low cost secondary research using the internet or research journals.
Both primary and secondary research are useful and important in shaping your marketing plan. Which type of research you rely on first or most depends on a number of factors, including the specificity of your goals and your budget.
The Budget Issue
While many industrial marketers understand the value of market research, it’s no surprise that budgets don’t always line up with desires. Of those industrial marketers that use market research, 63 percent invest less than ten percent of their budget in primary or secondary market research. Of those that don’t use research, 57 percent say budgetary constraints prevent them from using primary research.
Do-it-Yourself or Work with a Vendor?
Sixty-four percent of marketers take the do-it-yourself approach when it comes to conducting primary research. That means taking responsibility for setting research goals, designing and sending out surveys, making calls, conducting focus groups, etc.—and also compiling and analyzing the data you collect. Conducting research yourself can help with budget constraints, but it can also be difficult to accomplish if you’re short on time and manpower.
Forty-six percent hire an outside vendor to conduct primary market research. Industrial marketers state they want a market research provider that has:
- Experience working in my industry (56 percent)
- Research specific to my industry (49 percent)
- Depth of knowledge in my industry (42 percent)
The takeaway is that if you’re going to hire an outside firm, make sure they know your specific industry and have experience conducting research among its audience.
When it comes to obtaining secondary research, 85 percent of marketers search the internet, with some positive results: 30 percent of their secondary research comes from internet searches.
Often, a company will start by compiling secondary research and then fill in missing intelligence by conducting primary research.
Make More Informed Decisions
With the insight you gain through both primary and secondary market research, you can make more informed and confident decisions about which markets to enter, products to develop, and how to market to customers and prospects.
For a quick, one-page guide on this topic, download the infographic “How Industrial Marketers Use Market Research.”