Pokemon GO and PokeStops a boon for business

On Monday, I wrote about the popularity of the new Pokemon Go app and how its popularity both befuddled me and intrigued me.

Pokestops
Pokemon Go means even Pikachu can be found at PokeStops

At last check, the game now has been downloaded well over 7.5 million times and is making in the neighborhood of $2 million per day. It is the most popular app in Apple’s app store and is on track to be used by more people than Twitter. Additionally, some estimates report that Pokemon Go is being played nearly 45 minutes a day per user, more than any other social app. The Holocaust Museum and Arlington Cemetery have already outlawed the use of the app on their grounds.

A new opportunity for businesses – being near PokeStops

Thinking about it today, the Pokemon Go brand can be a powerful tool for businesses. As I wrote, the emotional drivers of this craze is that those who use it believe they are cool when they use it and are at important places. It is also much the same for businesses. They have an opportunity to connect with a new target audience.

PokestopsOne of the game’s intentions is to urge people to get out and walk, looking for these virtual Pokemon characters. Throughout the augmented world, there are PokeStops that give players items like eggs and Poke Balls. Businesses have the ability to purchase (within the Pokemon Go app) items called lures that entice Pokemons to their location for a period of time.

Store owners have reported immediate increases in traffic and sales if they are near a PokeStop and have an active lure. There is no other current form of advertising with this impact on such a wide scale. These businesses, in essence, echo the brand face the player has – I am cool because I use it and my location is important. The businesses are aligning themselves with a very coveted age group and making their own locations important.

Eventually, the game’s developer, Niantic Labs, will make it possible to purchase PokeStops. As of now, the best businesses can hope for is that they near one. But the power of this Pokemon Go craze cannot be denied and, most importantly, should not be dismissed by businesses needing to connect with a potentially new audience. Latching onto the Pokemon Go phenomenon means you are cool and where you are is important.

That will make your business important too.

US Government vs Apple Inc

US Government vs Apple. Nothing is more American than Apple®pie

US Government vs AppleA brand is a means of identification. The world’s best brands represent the highest aspirations of its adherents. The more emotionally important that reflection is, the more important the brand is. In an odd change of pace, I am watching the battle between the two monster brands— The US Government vs Apple Inc.

Many years ago when I worked for Saatchi & Saatchi, I remember my boss at the time, Ravi Arapurakal, prophesizing that the emergence of international corporate brands would one day be more important than the brand of nationality. He saw this progression as a positive change because the economic interests in global commerce would make international conflicts a greater hazard for corporate viability and success. Ravi spun many philosophical streams (and still does) but this one stuck to me. Possibly because it seemed so crazy to me at the time.

Today, I am looking at a tear in the fabric of the universe.

US Government vs AppleI’m an American. A citizen of the United States of America. You know the Americans? Home of the free and the brave (or so the song goes). The focal point of freedom and individual rights and unbridled freedom. Why is it then that Apple is standing firm on my rights to ownership and privacy while the US government wants to force Apple to crack open its heralded privacy software and crack the security of Tashfeen Malik’s iPhone (the accused San Bernardino terrorist killer).

US Government vs AppleAs you will remember from your civics classes, the US Constitution and the laws of the land are designed to move and change slowly. The very thoughtful reasoning behind this is to protect us from wild swings in emotional sentiments. Our laws are supposed to keep us safe from overreaction and the tyranny of the majority. Did anyone ever think that it would be a commercial brand that sought to ensure our rights while a democratically elected government sought to infringe on those rights (besides Ravi, that is)?

US Government vs Apple. We need to make hard choices.

Like all the rest of us I am worried and concerned about terrorism. I want the government to keep my family and friends safe. I want the government to prosecute criminals and terrorists. I want the government to do (within the law) all it can to secure our safety. But here I am, thanking Apple for taking a stand to protect my rights of privacy. In effect, it is defending the right of privacy for us all— everywhere. Apple represents, in this instance, a higher ideal than my own country.

Robert Bork. US Government vs Apple
Judge Bork did not believe in privacy

Our Supreme Court has haggled for years over our rights to privacy. Many maintain that the Constitution does not explicitly defend a citizens right to privacy. Many who are old enough can remember the contentious hearings from the late 80’s when Judge Robert Bork, who claimed there is NO right to privacy in the Constitution was not confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice.

Thank you Apple. Thank you Tim Cook. I’m not Robert Bork and I happen to believe our right to privacy is an accepted value of a free people. The US Government vs Apple is important.

Sometimes, we need to see a bigger picture and to recognize that principle is the only way we ensure our values are honored. Are there risks? You bet there are. But our freedom and liberty are the price we must pay if we truly believe in human rights.

More on Apple and government…

Apple 5se is the wrong brand

The Apple Watch

Apple since the death of Steve Jobs

Politics is emotional

What is wrong with US Politics

The Democrats need brand help

 

 

 

Predict the success of marketing. A Marketing Metrics

Predict the success of marketing. Predicting that influence on brand strategy

The Human Model | Motivators | Challenges | Desire | Familiarity | Leadership | Affirmation | Scope | Comfort | Change | Community | Summary

By Tom Dougherty

Introduction into the art of how to predict the success of marketing

The purpose for all messaging and communications is to have influence on the audience and to persuade it to act. However, getting your message to the proper audience in today’s economic climate is no longer an issue of choosing among the possibilities. Instead, it has become solely an issue of affordability. There is a need to predict the success of marketing messages. In retrospect, many experts have looked at the success of past advertising campaigns but hindsight is not valuable.

predict the success of marketing
A model to predict behavior

Companies do what they “need” to do, instead of what they “want” to do. How do you measure effectiveness and ensure that you win? These questions can be predicted if not measured. We needed a comprehensive model to predict the success of marketing so we created this marketing metrics. For that “need” to be effective, it must be the most meaningful in the market – and it must resonate considering the current situation, such as an economic climate that has changed the mindsets of consumers.

The unwillingness to address those needs and go with the same tired approach – messaging that’s nearly identical to what was delivered years ago and follows the tired reach-frequency format so many misguided marketers follow – produces a predictable, losing formula. After all, in changing times, there will still be winners and there will still be losers.  The difference between the two is one understands the nature of human beings and the other doesn’t.

If you seek to understand something, it always makes sense to model it. The science of physics has been modeling natural laws for centuries. The marketing metrics model presented here is a formula that takes into account the emotional intensities of the primary human motivators within any changing situation, economic or otherwise, to formulate messages that will resonate most strongly with audiences, and predict the success of marketing messages. With this marketing metrics model, you will learn to recognize the elements and, if form follows function, you will be able to understand how to influence and change the model. (Read how precepts control behavior)

The Comprehensive Model of Persuasive Communications for marketing and branding. How to predict the success of marketing A New Human Model for Persuasive Communications

to predict the success of marketing is the goal of any strategist and marketing matrix
How well will our marketing messages resonate

Human behavior can be modeled, as you will see, and this marketing metrics model in particular models the behavioral elements of persuasion. Let’s start by asking ourselves, what do we notice? How do we decide what is important and what we remember? When we examine the answers to those questions, we begin to re-think the waste inherent in current marketing. Looking at the elements of human behavior is quite different from modeling a communication process like reach and frequency. For this new model to be usable, it needs to act as a predictor of human behavior and, by definition, should be able to explain past communication successes and failures.

What Human Beings Notice Most

Human beings are egocentric. We cannot get out of our own way and see almost everything through the filter of self. As a result of this filter, what the receiver considers most when confronted with messages is not so much “what’s in it for me” (which is the traditional model of benefits and features) but rather “am I in it”? Human beings notice ideas and products that, in some way, reflect themselves. They remember products and ideas that help them accomplish their major goal of simply becoming themselves. That is why, if a doctor tells you to lose weight because of the onset of diabetes, we notice and pay attention to messages about weight loss — a message we might have ignored the day before. (Another example: Think of how many For Sale signs you saw when you were buying a house. Then think about how, amazingly, they seemed to disappear once you bought the house.)

The New Marketing Metrics Model to Predict the Success of Marketing and Marketing Messages

Imagine this: You are driving down the highway and you see a billboard that featured your photograph. Would you notice it, regardless of message? Absolutely. There is a communications process that empowers every message to become exactly that effective. It requires an anthropologist’s skill at understanding and modeling human behaviors and motivations. Once that has been uncovered, you would need to include that learning in the message itself. It would be nearly as effective – and in a similar way – as starting every message with the customer’s name and image. Through experience and empirical and scientific research, the human motivators have been effectively modeled here and the basic elements are cross-cultural, so personal impression can be noticed and acted upon. The basic queries in this marketing metrics remain constant regardless of culture or national origin. They are global. Understanding the eight elementary human motivators propels your message to the forefront and ensures it is remembered.

The Unquenchable Thirst for Meaning

Human beings, regardless of culture, seek meaning in all of their actions. (Consider this: We even talk to our dogs, expecting them to give reasons for the things they do.) This represents an opportunity for those communicators who understand this tremendous thirst for meaning. This means that the words we choose to create meaning to our messages and our brand is extraordinarily important. It means that everyone who is exposed to your offering or the communication of that offering sees this meaning and, in fact, will use the words you provide to them. This is a double-edged sword. If you get the meaning wrong, those with whom you are communicating will insert meaning that is not important or motivating to them and, therefore, fail to inspire them to your ideas, services, products or brands.

The Prime Motivators in the Marketing Metrics

The eight primary human motivators form the basics of self-identification and account for a human’s own sense of self — given that the fundamental needs for sustenance, shelter and health are sated. By addressing each of these in your message, you ensure that everyone who is exposed to your message (reach) will notice the message.

1. Affirmation 2. Leadership 3. Familiarity 4. Comfort 5. Change 6. Community 7. Desire 8. Scope

These eight prime motivators are the filters through which all messages are received, accepted, ignored or rejected. The more they reflect the “self-settings” of the recipient, the more likely they are to be acted upon.

Good Times vs. Tough Times and Times of Change

In creating this model, we looked at each of the eight prime motivators needed to predict the success of marketing messages and measured the differences between cultural norms in both good and tough economic times because most companies and brands in the U.S. have become handicapped by this situation. The marketing metrics model will demonstrate the differences in these motivators, predict success and explain failure. We are able to recognize the intensities of each motivator in relation to the situation as well as the rate with which they change during changing situations. In this case, that situation is economic: Going from “good times” to the “tough times” of today. The motivators below are listed in order of intensity during good times and tough times. Also, the way in which each motivator is defined changes slightly, depending on overall circumstances. It is those nuances that often make the difference between a winning message in the context of the times and a losing one. Each motivator has been given an intensity measurement, a ranking on a 10-point scale based on the particular situation. In addition to differing definitions, the rate of change for the intensity of a human motivator from one situation to another is referred to as Acceleration, and those rates are measured on a 10-point scale.

Tough Times
Good Times
1. Comfort 1. Desire
2. Affirmation 2. Familiarity
3. Familiarity 3. Leadership
4. Community 4. Affirmation
5. Change 5. Scope
6. Desire 6. Comfort
7. Scope 7. Change
8. Leadership 8. Community

Desire(Good Times intensity 6.0 — Tough Times intensity 6.5 — Acceleration 8.0)

In good times, the most important human motivator is Desire. It derives its power from its relationship with the other motivators. Simply taking into account the desires of the target audience that you seek to influence is not nearly enough to promise success. It is simply a starting point. A traditional usage and attitudinal study (U&A Study) can discover what people need or want and the results are then used to create messaging that fulfills those desires. However, there is a more powerful means to understand and use this dynamic — one that will make it useful to you as a predictor of success and as a tool to understand past successes or failures in the marketing metrics.

predict the success of marketing

In good times, the fulfillment of desires is defined as “What I Want.” In tough times, it is defined as “What I Need.” Comparing the relative importance of each definition in good or tough times demonstrates why the benefit you offered in relative good times will not resonate as important in tough times. As a general rule, all intensities are increased in tough times and each of the prime motivators is realized as more important. But understanding the nuances is critical in the marketing metrics because it’s what makes the difference between surviving in tough times. In this case, that means your message must be about “need,” not “want.”     Think of it this way: In tough times, you “need” products to simply do their job. In good times, you “want” something more. In tough times, we simply need coffee, so you accept the one at the grocery store. In good times, you want Starbucks. And thus, you have a predictor of what Starbucks is currently going through unless they adapt their communications to the particular nuance.

Familiarity (Good Times intensity 5.0 — Tough Times intensity 7.0 — Acceleration of 6.40)

All communicators understand how important familiarity is to any idea, product, or service because if someone is unfamiliar with that product or service they are less likely to adopt it as a new behavior. Familiarity is also linked to top-of-mind awareness in the marketing metrics but even that is misunderstood. It is not so much about the familiarity of the brand or product, but what is it about that brand or product that makes it feels familiar and at ease.

predict the success of marketing

In good times, the fulfillment of familiarity is defined as “What is Easy.” In tough times, it is defined as “What is Safest.” That is, in good times, consumers are looking to what makes things easy for them, even if its outcome may have risks. In tough times, risk is less accepted. Safe feels familiar to audiences now because it offers a refuge that may herald back to nostalgia.

Seeking the Familiar - predict the success of marketing

For example, when you are thirsty in good times, you might choose what is “easy.” That is, we might grab what is most available. In tough times, we seek “safest,” meaning we might inconvenience ourselves and go somewhere else for something that is healthier or cheaper.

Leadership (Good Times intensity 4.0 — Tough Times intensity 5.0 — Acceleration of 7.0)

When we think about leadership as a human motivator in the marketing metrics we are not talking about taking the lead on something as we might in geopolitical terms. We are talking about leadership in terms of responsibility — meaning, “Who takes the responsibility for this action?” It is an internal question asked by everyone before they take any action.

predict the success of marketing

In good times, from the point of view of the target audience, the fulfillment of Leadership is defined as “My Responsibility” (the consumer) and in tough times it is defined as “Your Responsibility” (the brand). In good times, audiences are more than happy to assume the responsibility because the risks are fewer. Once the element of risk has become more threatening, however, audiences want the responsibility to fall to the experts (or communicator of the message).

Leadership in good and tough times - predict the success of marketing

As strange at it may sound, according to the marketing metrics, we listen to experts more in tough times.  Even if they were the ones who let us down in good times. That’s because the responsibility has shifted. Choice, as we will examine more closely in Scope, becomes less of a motivator.

Affirmation (Good Times intensity 3.0 — Tough Times intensity 7.0 — Acceleration of 6.99)

One of the ways human beings seek meaning is by looking for affirmation in their choices. Consumers wish to make sure that all of their actions are somehow affirmed as “being correct.” As a primary human motivator – regardless of culture, product and category – everyone that your brand or marketing message contacts are seeking this sense of affirmation and certainty.

predict the success of marketing

Without this value in the marketing metrics, target audiences gravitate towards inaction: A refusal to make a choice or fall back into a habit of what “I have always done.” This is a surefire way to assure continued market dominance by the category leader. It means that if we do not provide our audiences with a sense of affirmation, little or no change will take place in the marketplace and the market leader will continue to benefit from this inaction.

Seeking Correctness - predict the success of marketing

In good times, the fulfillment of Affirmation is defined as making the Best Choice and in tough times it is defined as making the Right Choice. For example, in good times, we will look for the best choice in automobiles, something that is top of the line or sporty fits us best. In tough times, we look for those things that are right, such as a hybrid or something more economical. The world, in a way, has determined that it’s right. Talking about the choices consumers make in terms of affirming they have made the right choice makes your messages more meaningful in a difficult economic climate.

Scope (Good Times intensity 3.0 — Tough Times intensity 5.0 — Acceleration 7.75)

Scope is one the most complex of the human motivators in the marketing metrics. When we consider Scope, we see it in terms of how large audiences want their considered set to be. This is related to the other motivators, such as leadership or the transfer of the responsibility of the decision to others. What we seek to understand in looking at scope is what gives the customer or prospect permission to include the scope of either your product or category into their consideration.

predict the success of marketing

In good times, the fulfillment of Scope is defined as having many choices and in tough times it is defined as having precision and more focus. In good times, audiences seek a wide scope, with lots of choices. In tough times, we are looking for “right,” so more focus is needed. Our considered set is smaller and we often give expert advice more weight. This, for example, is why Borders (which is all about choice) found it difficult to survive in a difficult economic climate.

Defining Scope - predict the success of marketing

Comfort (Good Times intensity 2.0 — Tough Times intensity 9.0 — Acceleration 9.18)

Human beings seek comfort no matter the situation, but the intensity surrounding it is much stronger depending on that situation.

predict the success of marketing

According to the marketing metrics, in good times, Comfort is simply accepted as the norm. In tough times, it is actively sought. In good times, most of us feel that we already have comfort so a comfort message is relatively meaningless. In tough times, however, comfort is no longer a given. Therefore, we seek it and a comfort promise – instead of achieving, which has risks – resonates. Note the differences in intensities with this motivator within the two situations. It is only a 2.0 on a 10-point scale in good times. In tough times, it’s a 9.0 with one of the highest rates of acceleration among all the motivators.

Comfort in the ability to predict the success of marketing

Change (Good Times intensity 1.5 — Tough Times intensity 7.0 — Acceleration of 6.99)

The longing for human beings to be in control is a prime motivator. It is within the dynamic of change in the marketing metrics that the need for control becomes most evident. When we think about change as a key persuasive human motivator, we actually think about it as a barrier than as an attraction. The changing situation determines its intensity.

predict the success of marketing

In good times, the resistance to Change is simply uncomfortable and in tough times it is outright feared. Therefore, in tough times, change messages should be softened, otherwise they will feel to audiences like a loss of control.

Perception of change -predict the success of marketing

Community (Good Times intensity 1.0 — Tough Times intensity 7.0 — Acceleration 9.31)

Community in the marketing metrics, refers to the acceptance of the community that affirms our existence and is related to Affirmation. It represents the wish of all human beings to be part of an affirmed group. Very few people are capable of acting as completely independent individuals. Therefore, for the vast majority of people we wish to influence, we must understand the importance of community and the acceptance that community offers.

predict the success of marketing

In good times, the fulfillment of Community is simply about the individual and in tough times it is satisfied through the safety of numbers. In good times, you can risk going it alone – being a leader, a rebel, etc. – because there is less at stake. In tough times, there is too much at risk in going it alone, so you seek safety in a community or being a part of a group.

Seeking Community - predict the success of marketing

Maketing Metrics Summary

Companies and their brands have reached the point in which their communications must change in order to survive in such a changing market. The marketing metrics of the Comprehensive Model for Persuasive Human Communications allows them to alter their messaging so that it becomes more meaningful in context. If nobody adapts to the current context, the default choice will always be the market leader. But the situation actually presents an opportunity for those chasing the market leader (as well as for the market leaders themselves) that reaches target audiences so deeply it causes action. How the primary human motivators are addressed will become the difference between who survives and who doesn’t.

Definitions COMPREHENSIVE MODEL FOR PERSUASIVE HUMAN COMMUNICATIONS: A mathematical model that measures the impact changing conditions have on emotional intensities of primary human motivators. The model can be used to predict and formulate messages for brands that will resonate most strongly with target audiences.

INTENSITIES: The relative strength of human motivators expressed as a ranking on a 10-point scale based on the particular attributes examined by the model. ACCELERATION: The rate of change for the intensity of a human motivator from one state to another, measured on a 10-point scale.

VALUE OF MESSAGE CHANGE: A mathematical representation using intensity and acceleration to predict the value in terms of its overall impact on each motivator.

 

Download a Power Point Presentation of motivational-Cues and how to predict the success of marketing messages here.pptx
Download a PowerPoint presentation of motivational-Cues and how to predict the success of marketing messages on the link below

Download a Power Point Presentation of motivational-Cues and how to predict the success of marketing messages here.pptx

How to predict the success of marketing messages as a PDF may be downloaded here.

Rescuing Newspapers

Rescuing Newspapers and the Power of Brand

Rescuing newspapers is a choice worth making
Newspapers need to make a choice

By Tom Dougherty

Of all the changes that modern technology has ushered in, nothing is more distressing than the demise of the daily newspaper. Across the globe, newsrooms are clipping the wings of their staff of reporters, closing domestic and foreign bureaus, and relinquishing the seeming insurmountable battle for being the news of record. As a result of the advertising hole in newspapers shrinking to a small fraction of its former glory, even if readership levels remain constant, newspapers are forced to retract. (Read our take on CNN)

I’m not saying that I have the solution for this downward slope towards this event horizon. However, I do know how to find it.

Newspapers Have a Brand Sweet Spot

The purpose of a brand is to protect a product or company from always having to be first, most innovative, or even the best. At its core, brand seeks to so clearly identify its core customer that to purchase anything else is a form of suicide. Sadly, when I think about the demise of local newsprint, it feels more like genocide than suicide. The next great extinction may not be found in Darwin’s work but rather in the esteemed readership of the clearly informed. Unless at least one newspaper invests in fixing the problem, the industry is doomed and, as a result, so are those of us who desire to be informed.

And in this conundrum is the rub. If newspapers are an important part of the self-description of being one of the informed, how can that void go unfilled? How will we get our news in the next 10 years? What will happen to our self-identification as being on of those that knows? (Read some of the foibles in brand creation here)

Many on the inside believe that the problem with rescuing newspapers is the deft of advertisers. After all, we all knew that the real cost of putting together a daily paper was never covered by the newsstand price. The advertising section paid it for.

This is a part of the puzzle that will be harder to fix. Online resources for the real-estate section, automotive section and classified ads have been replaced by an online access that is more efficient. Don’t expect those ad sections to ever recover. Markets move inevitably toward economy and there is nothing we can or should do about that. But there is hope.

The Current Model of News is Not Working

Listen to the meta chatter going on all around us. More and more viewers find the major news networks anything but newsworthy. For the most part, they are talking heads chattering on with bias and agendas. They are spin-doctors masquerading as experts who blow everything out of proportion, incite vitriol, and repeat the same tired refrains until they all look like automatons.

To rescue newspapers editorial decisions need to get off the treadmill People increasingly complain about the quality of the news they get and yet more and more rely on web news portals and cable news networks for their fill of timely nuggets. While these blurbs keep us well informed on our sports addiction and Hollywood gossip, we all know that it is a poor substitute for hard hitting and revealing news. Despite this duality of a lack of meaningful news and a retracting of local newspapers, readership is still declining.

Remember the old story of the fat, cigar smoking railroad executive from the 1920s with his feet up on the desk and his gaze resting on a wall of awards and certificates? Then suddenly, a young twenty-something busts through his door in excitement and says to his boss as he point out the window at a passing bi-plane — “Boss, we need to get into that airplane business!” The boss replies, in a self-assured way…”Kid” he says, “get out of here…we are a railroad.”

Why are Newspapers Failing?

I think the term newspaper is about as meaningful today as a checking account. It needs a new definition. Something that says the reader is knowledgeable and different. Informed and not opinionated. Engaged and not obsessive. Well rounded and not a demagogue. These self-identifications are the silversmith’s hallmark of a brand. They cause a magnetic property that attracts everyone who covets that moniker. Of course, it means that the truth of the statement must be made explicit. Should the new newspaper be about entertainment? I think in a small way, but I would let the research help me with that. Conventional wisdom, by the editors that are as near underwater as an air breathing creature can be, will tell you about the most widely read sections of the paper. But that readership roadmap might not be so important to the new generation of loyalists that a new brand of paper must excite to survive. All I am saying is that someone must take a fresh look at this category because the conventional wisdom of experience is failing them. If a newspaper is to survive, thrive, and grow in importance, the managerial staff must be willing to challenge everything. The answer may or may not be an online subscription. What I am suggesting is that there are a lot of tried and true ideas that need to be abandoned.

Fixing the Flight of Advertisers

Rescuing newspapers ball and chainThe shrinking news hole is another important hurdle but I think fixing the first— finding the highest emotional intensity of the informed — will help fix that problem as well.

Ask yourself what businesses covet an educated and informed market? How many advertisers would like to gain direct access to those consumers? I think the answer is not to expand the advertising hole but to think instead of section sponsorship. Link the advertisers directly with the aspirations of the reader. There are no brands that I know of that do not want the blush of a brand association that reflects on importance, integrity and truthfulness. To have that association, newspapers can charge more for that sponsorship and give it excusive prominence. Local restaurants and services would pay handsomely for that access. Not in terms of full sponsorship but to appear in those sections as well.

To my thinking, this is an old model that needs refreshing. When you look at old newspapers or even watch vintage TV, long copy ads and commercial sponsorship seems a little naïve. But that is precisely its power.

Newspapers cannot be allowed to die because our civilization needs a questioning and unbiased arbiter in a free press. We need to rescue newspapers. Will any newspaper take us up on the challenge and ask us to apply our skills of research, persuasion, highest emotional intensity identification and market share growth? Stay tuned. But, I am hopeful.

Business-to-Business Market Research: A Wide Open Opportunity

Business-to-Business Market Research Means Business

By Tom Dougherty

B-to-B Strategy Is Special

business-to-business market research provides surprising results
How the research is conducted matters

Developing and enhancing brands for companies whose main emphasis is business to business has very specific challenges.  These characteristic obstacles make the brand development model in B-to B strategy more complicated; however, this means the outcomes are all the more valuable. In general, the direct to consumer research process seems very straight forward, and it is assumed that this kind of market research is much more easily conducted.

This is not necessarily the case. In fact, the methodology of business-to-business market research is very similar to this model, and the importance is every bit as relevant. In all truly revealing research, regardless of industry, the value is dependent on both your ability to ask the right questions and your ability to identify the target audience to survey.

The questions that you ask to define your target are the same regardless of the venue. Who are the primary decision makers?  Who influences the decision? Who should be the decision maker?  The last question is most compelling because it requires innovative thinking and possibly even new category creation. In work that Stealing Share completed for a national logistics provider, discovering who should be the decision-maker opened the doors to new opportunity.

Do Homework

Before the study began, we agreed that we needed to place focus upon the corporate logistics managers, the individuals who held the responsibility of running the in-house logistics departments. Upon further thought and our preceptive behavior modeling, it began to emerge that a substantial opportunity existed with the “C” level executive.  Our modeling indicated a tendency in the logistics manager to be risk adverse, and committed to keeping logistics in-house.

The “C” level executive appeared more receptive to strategic messaging and more apt to embrace the change that hiring a third party logistics provider (3PL) represented. (Read how the CEO needs to be involved here). All of these hypotheses surfaced from the research. As suspected, the logistics manager did not want to give up control while the CEO viewed the gesture as a strategic decision. This discovery turned the industry on its ear, and all it required was simply assuming nothing and looking at the playing field with unbiased eyes. However, this is not ever where the work ends. Hypotheses lead to an entirely different series of questions, and the brand process continues.

What is Next?

After the target audience is identified, you then must understand the entire market by asking the right questions. You need to develop a means to profile the category in a way that will allow you to segment it in cross tabulations (for marketing purposes) as well as aid in developing sales messaging. Myers/Briggs profiling, for example, in our research questionnaire can be productive because it allows us to observe the target as if they represent an individual personality type. With this knowledge we are able to get our arms around the target and visualize them as a person rather then as a faceless company.

business-to-business market research looks at the customer as a person
Market share is the end game

Build your questions around your strategy and not around the known. Getting a business executive to speak with you during the business day is difficult, so assume that the incidence (the rate of completed surveys per number of calls made) will be low and more costly.

As the questionnaire is written, we like to think of it as a telegram and remind ourselves that we are paying dearly for every word. Do not ask questions to which you already know the answers. Most existing research is populated with non-essential data and sheds minimal light on the real marketing issues. Ask difficult questions that enable you to actually gain insight on the segment. In addition, you must compare your brand to the competitive set and find out who is credited with certain attributes.

The difficulty is that we are not talking about product attributes such as price. We are talking about brand attributes like beliefs and imagery. These answers will allow you to look at the market clearly and honestly. Furthermore, if you queried the target market as to the importance of these attributes, you will not only know what is important but who owns it.

In order to steal market share you must understand switching behaviors and beliefs. Open-ended questions will not give you the fodder you seek because price and availability are table stakes. If you ask consumers, they will tell you that price is the issue. This is what consumers regurgitate to protect themselves from looking foolish. Price is the first answer because it is the easiest value for your target audience to quantify. Obviously within your B-to-B category there is limited price elasticity, and you have no choice but to play in that range. What you seek to understand is, with all things being equal (read price), what makes a difference?

This requires careful thought because you must prompt the respondents and then get them to rank attributes dispassionately. This kind of business-to-business market research is involved work but indispensable in helping your B-to-B brand steal market share. Only when you fully understand the precepts (beliefs) of your target audience can your brand be implemented to influence the purchase decision. The secret is that the customer needs to covet your brand every bit as much as you covet the purchase transaction. (Read more detail on market research and the difference between methodologies here)

Read a B2B market study here