Customer Insights & Market Data are increasingly linked to business growth
According to Kantar*, 78% of over-performing companies (on revenue growth) claim customer centricity is fully embraced by all functions. Only 12% of under-performing companies could claim the same.
70% of B2B marketers say they are finding it harder to differentiate**
*Research conducted by Kantar Vermeer
**Report: Creating Epic Customer Experiences (Marketo, 2019)
And data from our own 9 Boxes™ management framework benchmark (over 4000 businesses) reveals that 71% of SMB’s have not asked how or why their clients buy from them.
Understanding customer needs and your operating market are no longer ‘nice to haves’.
- They are foundational inputs to business planning and marketing strategy.
- They are our ‘outside-in’ voice.
- They can lead to product/service differentiation – vital in increasingly competitive categories and against a backdrop of rising customer expectations.
- Customer and Market knowledge leads to more confident decision making, likely to also reduce business risk.
Despite these benefits, many SMB’s neglect this vital part of the marketing process – due often to cost and/or limitations on time and competencies.
Recognising the need for a programme for businesses of all sizes we have developed an SMB focused offering
Affordable access to research services
Led by senior insights professionals with global and local experience
B2B and B2C options
Contemporary suite of tools: qual/quant, primary/secondary data, digital data
Supports foundational strategic work and ongoing marketing initiatives
Actionable, digestible outputs
Bringing ‘big business’ principles into the SMB way of working
Social media listening
User experience videos
Concept tests (product, communication)
Customer journey mapping
Value proposition workshops
As part of our 9 Boxes™ methodology and Strategic Market Assessment process, we are able to identify which customer insight and market data tools are recommended for your business and when.
How we have used customer insight to help SMB’s
- Defined their point of difference
- Created an advantage in the buyer’s journey
- Understanding of their customers pain points
- Clarified referral relationships
- Developed stakeholder segmentation
- Understanding key messages
- Clearly defined target customer
- Defined key channel influencers
- Sharpened value proposition
Grow your business through customer insight
We already have good customer relationships and speak to them all the time. Are we not doing this already?
We typically advise that businesses speak to their customers away from the ‘business as usual’ conversations, as insights have a different context.
‘Business as usual’ tends to be transactional, daily conversations. Whereas insights is a deeper, more strategic conversation, which can be transformational to any business.
We also often experience that customers and stakeholders may reveal more and be more candid with a third-party researcher about the business relationship and future needs.
Finally, in order to capture all the relevant insights for ongoing marketing plans, it is important to speak with current ‘regular’ customers, as well as ‘irregular’ and even past ones (not only your businesses current ‘fans’.)
How will I use the customer insights?
Customer insights have many uses, from the ‘foundational’ work setting up your business plan and marketing strategy, through to supporting ongoing marketing and commercial activities. Anytime you are undertaking a business initiative targeted at customers or that they will interact with, it is incredibly beneficial to have input from them.
These are some of the typical reasons businesses use insights:
- Test viability of new products and services,
- Launch into new geographical locations,
- Better define target markets,
- Understand buyer behaviour,
- Test brand, creative concepts and messaging,
- Get a business ‘report card’ and customer experience scores.
Of course, there are more reasons, however, these are typical in most markets.
How will customer insights drive revenue?
Customer insights help your business make transformational decisions – launching into new markets, launching new products – all actions that drive revenue.
A sharper positioning and value proposition can lead to better sales conversions through messaging that resonates with target customers. Something as simple as understanding how you can better serve could encourage current customers to buy more from your business, delivering additional revenue.
Isn’t customer research for big business?
Every business needs to better understand their customers and markets. Customer insights drives a better and deeper understanding of customers and that should be undertaken by every business looking for growth.
Advances in digital research tools have also made big business research techniques more accessible and affordable to smaller businesses.
How frequently do I need to be doing research?
The frequency is very dependent on the ‘age and stage’ of your business and this is a different conversation for every business. The suggested minimum is once a year, however this depends on what you have planned from a business growth perspective and included in your marketing strategy. Research should not be considered a ‘one time’ exercise – it is a mindset change towards using customer insights more regularly in your business.
How do we know what to ask them?
Understanding your business growth requirements helps us define research objectives, informing what to ask your customers. Perhaps you want to assess the appetite for a new product, test some messages, or enhance your understanding of buyer behaviour. All of these outcomes will demand a different set of research questions and influence methods and/or techniques.
What’s the benefit of using a third party?
A third party is able to translate your business challenge or customer knowledge gaps into a recommended research approach. What are the right tools or techniques to get to the desired output?
Third party experts also tend to have skills to develop the right questions – knowing what to ask is crucial. They also have the skill to ask questions in the right way and interpret the answers in line with business requirements. They are trained to extract key insights from a large amount of customer data.
Finally, they have no emotional attachment to the answers and your customers tend to feel more comfortable speaking with an expert outside of your business.
Is 10 customer interviews enough?
Yes, 10 customer interviews can be enough –this is a great start. It’s always wise to have an open mind about the services available and what’s appropriate to ‘get the job done’. Again, this goes back to the brief and research objectives.
If your business deals with different stakeholder groups, it may be prudent to conduct more than 10 interviews overall in order to achieve a consensus opinion for individual groups.
What about internal insights with my team?
Individuals in your team are significant stakeholders and play an important role in the insights conversation. The behaviours of your customers and internal stakeholders are intrinsically linked – both need to be documented and considered. There are also many internal team members with strong customer facing roles and therefore can provide valuable insights into customer needs and experiences.
We're only a small business – is some investment in research better than none?
Yes, absolutely. Having customer insights generally gives a business more confidence in their plans and decision making, which can potentially lower business risk.
Understanding the ‘job to be done’ and finding the right research solution is key. The briefing is crucial and there are numerous cost-effective options that are available to small businesses.
How quickly can you do a customer interview project and what is your process?
The process of speaking with 10 customers takes approximately 4-6 weeks. This includes designing the questionnaire, contacting the customers, booking in calls, executing the calls, analysis of the conversations and presenting the report back to your business.
It does depend on the type of research being conducted, but a typical customer interview/survey project would take approximately 4-6 weeks to turnaround. This can depend on the availability of interviewees/respondents. Techniques such as social media listening, competitor analysis etc could take approximately 1-2 weeks.
Which customers and stakeholders do we need to speak to?
This depends on the research objectives and identified target groups. The general principle is a mix of happy, regular customers and past, irregular or potential customers, as well as a key decision maker, someone who has a vested interest in the product/service or a key influencer on the buying process.
Is social listening an 'always on' requirement or can it be 'moment in time'?
It can definitely be a ‘moment in time’ exercise to support a particular business/marketing need. For example, you are about to launch a new product and want to understand key influencers in that segment.
How do I know what types of customer/market data I need and when?
This should ideally be guided by your business and marketing calendar and the ‘age and stage’ of your business. As a rule of thumb, any time you are making key decisions or taking actions that are targeted at customers is a good time to gather customer data to support.
I have heard a lot about customer experience, but how do I know what to invest time/money in?
Part of a customer experience mapping exercise is to understand the more critical touchpoints or ‘moments of truth’ to prioritise. This can be revealed through customer research.
Does this service look at new customers and markets or only existing customers?
We look at a range of stakeholders in any business – some are easier to access than others. As part of the briefing process, we look at the value of those stakeholders and what speaking with them will add to research objectives.