Grow Leads with Market Research: 4 Steps to Great Research for Demand Generation

 In Demand Generation, Strategy and Go to Market
5 Minute Read

So you’re looking to grow leads with market research.  This marketing content doesn’t come cheap. But well-done, it’s high impact: delivering high awareness, demand, and sales enablement value. What do you need to do to make sure it’s a smashing success?  Read on for the 4 steps to great research for demand generation. 

Great Research for Demand Generation Works

Truly original, great research for demand generation breaks new ground. And because it’s inventive, it’s built for the long-term. Think a year.  So it’s much more enduring than a lead gen campaign.  Yet, to truly maximize the opportunity to grow leads with market research, you must have a compelling theme.  Ultimately, impactful research is packaged up into a variety of marketing content assets for use in all funnel stages. 

With that, take a look are the 4 steps that get you there and then we’ll examine each one.

image for grow leads with market research 4 steps to great research for demand generation

Grow Leads with Market Research Step #1: Know the Current Conversation

Your research needs to be original, and you can’t do that in a vacuum. To break new ground, you need to know the ground – every inch of it. This means getting your hands on everything you can find. So search like your life depends on your ability to dig up all relevant: 

  • Brokerage reports
  • Analyst reports
  • Earnings transcripts (you’d be surprised at what you can learn on SeekingAlpha)
  • Competitors’ web sites and marketing materials
  • Slideshare
  • YouTube
  • Social media sites

It Pays to Be Resourceful. 

Don’t forget to look in some of our favorite, resourceful places. Do 3 or 4 interviews with sales people – they know a ton. Hit your competition’s investor relations website section. It’s usually a treasure trove of market research that you’d have to otherwise buy.   

Next, search Reddit and Spiceworks. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at what you learn about your industry’s conversation on these sites.   

Read Everything Twice. 

Once you gather it all together, binge on all that juicy material.  Read/view it all once to get the big picture – to know the conversation.  Wait a day and then read it all a second time, this time noting possibilities on where that conversation could go next.

Grow Leads with Market Research Step #2:  Do the Plan 

Now it’s time to build your plan for great research for demand generation. We use a template that helps structure the project.  It lays out the usual: goals, target, sampling frame definition, number of completes, and research questions.   

Methodologies, statistical procedures, & models must match business problems. And they also need to match budgets, precision, and timelines. Results also need to focus on your company’s specific experience in the market—not just general industry data.  This step lays it all out in a roadmap of what to expect from your project and how you’ll do it.   

So, what’s a business goal?   

A Business Goal States How the Research Will Be Used.  

We’ll toss out an example or two: 

  • We want to gather market information for use in awareness building at the top of the funnel.
  • We also want bottom-of-funnel type info, like product features, or function comparisons.

Okay, now, what’s a research question?   

A Research Question States What You Want to Know.   

Here’s an example:  We want to know how many smart devices customers with a home VPN use. 

Notice it’s NOT a survey question?  Well, it’s not supposed to be. Rather, it’s the outcome of the research itself. Stick to this process because it forces your team to stick to substance. Arguing about semantics and wording can come later. Right now, your task is to simply lay out what you need to know. 

Get as exhaustive as you can get on what you want to know. Our approach – to be as thorough as possible – means you need to prioritize what’s most important to know. After all, it’s never going to be possible to build a survey that tackles every single research question. Determine what the important questions are – the ones that change your business, if answered. And make sure that you can’t get answers to these questions anywhere else. Just in case, Revisit Step 1 if you need to make sure. 

Also, this way, everything is a conscious choice. Most importantly, there are no big regrets after you’ve collected the data. You don’t waste time arguing over how to word the questions, either. It may be more planning up front, but you get a way better product in the end. You get great research for demand generation.  

Sadly, I can’t tell you how many “second look” data analysis projects we’ve done because they failed to plan. It’s worth taking time to determine what you really need to know.   

Your business goals, research target, research questions and budget thus drive the methodology. To get to the right survey length within budget, it’ll likely require a few revisions on the research plan. Knowing your priorities means you arrive to your final research plan a little more quickly. 

Grow Leads with Market Research Step #3:  Collect Data

Now you write the survey and program it. Your job here is to strike the balance of three things:  

  • Get as much info as you can from respondents
  • Be clearly understood by them in the way you intend
  • Take up as little time as possible

This isn’t as easy as you think. So this is when you can argue about question wording. Oh, and you certainly need to test that survey too! 

For Great Research for Demand Generation, Get to the Right People.

And you have one more job in this step: make sure you’re getting completed surveys from the right people. Panels are loaded with bogus survey-takers. So make sure you put a few landmines in the screener to trip up the wrong people and toss them from your research.   

Think you’re done? Vigilance doesn’t end there.

Reject and Replace Bad Survey Cases.

This is a garbage-in, garbage-out world.  Make sure your data collection vendor delivers the quality you need. Even if it means sending back the bad cases and getting more qualified ones, you gotta do what you gotta do.  

Grow Leads with Market Research Step #4:  The “Story” Matters

When creating great research for demand generation, it’s a good idea to first create an internal report focused on you as the target audience.  This is what gets you thinking about how you can package results up in different marketing content assets. Specifically, to decide which insights to internally keep for planning compared to insights for public consumption. To help, grab that research plan created in step 2. You’ll find that it helps articulate conclusions and recommendations that answer your key questions. 

This way, pulling out the story becomes a smooth and easy process.  We’re not exactly big believers in doing the question-by-question response reporting in PowerPoint. Heck, other tools can do that! To us, the best way to grow leads with market research is to craft the story and support it from analysis of survey answers.

And to show what we mean, take a look at the below boxes to see how study topics relate to packaging.

Image to grow leads with market research 4 steps to great research to grow demand

All you need to do is package up that great research for demand generation to change your industry’s conversation. You’ll like need many marketing assets.

More Ideas on How to Grow Leads with Market Research: 

  1. Do a press release and get earned media campaigns complete with embargoed press briefing on key findings.
  2. Write contributed articles to place in trade publications.
  3. Make sure you maximize SEO value by including commonly searched numbers, like market penetration or growth.
  4. Create eBooks to build awareness by including information about the market and to close deals with information about solution selection.
  5. Create presentations for trade conferences or vendor roadshows.
  6. Use part of the survey as a short quiz or calculator for interactive content.

Above all, remember the primary goal of market research is to highlight you and your company.  So when considering vendor partners to help create your great research for demand generation, think hard about involving an “analyst brand.”  Hire a technology analyst firm, and then research becomes about them.  Thus consider yourself cautioned: don’t let this be at the expense of your goals – which is your company changing and leading the industry conversation. 


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