Looking for a Real Competitive Advantage? You Need Primary Research.

Primary research is one of those things that’s easy to put off. It can often seem like a luxury and take months to properly complete. Further, you never really know the true value of it until it’s done. It’s a bit of a leap of faith.

So why do it?

There are three main reasons to conduct primary research. The first is to challenge your own beliefs and assumptions about what your market values. The second is to send a very strong marketing signal to your prospects and customers that you genuinely care about their input regarding your products and services. The third and most valuable reason is to gain a real competitive advantage.

One of the things we have learned in every survey we have done over the past 20 years is that there is always a surprise insight in the data collected if you pay close attention. Often these insights take the form of how your product features translate to your customer in benefit terms. For example, we did a survey for a company that had the largest fleet of service vehicles in their market. The survey respondents had no interest at all in the number of vehicles in the fleet, but they cared a lot about responsiveness.

This insight allowed us to focus on a promised benefit of being the most responsive, with a feature fact of the largest fleet to support the primary benefit.

Our Primary Research Approach

Our survey structure includes a section where we offer a list of variables and ask the respondents to score those factors on an importance basis from one to five. We then ask respondents to score the performance of our client (and sometimes the competition) on those same terms.

This is what provides us with an opportunity to identify a differentiated competitive advantage. Not only do we know what specifically the most important attributes to our customers and prospects are, we know how well we can keep our promise in the same areas. So if a feature like product availability scores unexpectedly very high and our performance score is only average, an operational change can be made so that the promise is fulfilled at the high level necessary. Focus is everything in B2B marketing – and research can provide a sound basis for it.

When we are done with a primary study, we are also able to clearly see where the competition is mismarketing. It is very common to see a competitor emphasizing a strength without realizing that the market assigns very little importance to that specific factor.

Primary research is worth the time and expense because it provides a meaningful competitive advantage and allows you to focus your messaging with much greater confidence and consistency. If you’re curious about how it works, get in touch with me directly at patricks@scgpr.com – I’d love to talk more about how our proven processes can create better marketing and a stronger foundation for your brand.

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Patrick Strother

Patrick founded Strother Communications Group (SCG) in 1992. His background is unique in that he has led both a public relations firm (Rowland Worldwide – Midwest) and an ad agency (Cevette and Company.) SCG was founded on the premise that […] Read Bio »


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