Marketers often rule out thought leadership surveys on the assumption that they’re going to be really expensive. They certainly can be if they’re global, pan-sector behemoths, but they don’t need to be – there are leaner, targeted, equally effective options too. And well-planned and executed surveys of any size offer the potential to deliver some powerful, tangible benefits and the opportunity to demonstrate ROI.
So what can surveys achieve for B2B brands? From quick, one-off opinion polls, to in-depth studies such as PwC’s high-profile Annual Global CEO Survey, they’re a highly effective way of fulfilling three principle objectives: generating new insight, gaining exposure and supporting your business development activity.
Generating insight, building credibility
Focused surveys can be used to produce new insight and fresh thinking, which you can overlay with your business’s own expertise and point of view. In other words: building credibility.
This is what we tend to think of as ‘finding-out’ research. It entails talking to clients and prospects to learn about their issues, perceptions and opinions on themes that are key to them and their organisation’s future success – and which relate to your particular offering.
You can use the data generated as a platform to take an authoritative position on important issues to your target audience. The results will resonate with their own thinking, and reinforce the perception that you understand them and are on their side.
This might be described as the ‘opposite’ of finding out. It involves proving a hypothesis that’s closely linked to your expertise.
The aim is to provide credible, independent evidence of the problems you help businesses to solve – in the form of eye-catching findings, provocative statistics and headline-grabbing media angles. The results should highlight the issues that keep your clients and prospects awake at night, so as to promote your offering as the solution.
The results and analysis can form the basis of a rich array of marketing and PR collateral – including thought leadership reports, whitepapers, articles, infographics, blogs, presentations, press releases, tweets and more – which can fuel client engagement as part of the longer game plan. We’ll look at these in a later blog in this series.
Supporting business development activity
Surveys can also be leveraged to help you engage more directly with clients and prospects. In fact, they can give you two bites at this particular cherry. One at the input stage, by involving them in the research itself. And one at the output stage, by reaching out to them with the results.
This can form the basis of a powerful toolkit of collateral and tactics for converting prospects into clients, reaching out to new prospects, and selling more to current clients.
There are numerous ways for B2B brands to use survey results as an engagement tool. One of the most powerful is to offer a benchmarking or diagnostic service to clients and prospects, to gauge how they measure up against their competitors. This list of sales leads is about as hot as it gets. They have demonstrated engagement by completing the survey, you can develop genuine client-specific insight when comparing their data with their peers and very few turn down the chance to learn how they stack up against competitors and can improve performance. These campaigns typically enjoy 80% take-up.
More to come…
At Grist, we’ve helped many B2B brands to realise the power of surveys as a content marketing tool – and also as a source of competitive intelligence. In the coming weeks, we’ll share more insights on how you can do this. This blog has looked at why you should consider surveys – upcoming blogs will address what formats you should explore and how you can ensure they are successful. We will also run through the plethora of assets you can create to engage clients and prospects at all stages of the BD pipeline.
In the meantime, please get in touch if you’d like to discuss how a survey could help make your campaigns more effective.