A critical component of business development often overlooked by failing companies, B2B market research applies solely to contributing parties such as suppliers, partners, stakeholders, and business customers. While plenty of research dollars are typically allocated for uncovering mass-market consumer insights, a thorough understanding of one’s business clients is equally crucial for the survival of any organization – especially in today’s economic climate. Risk mitigation and opportunity identification are just two of the benefits that B2B research can yield. When it comes to maximizing your business potential and safeguarding against present and future risk, B2B research is an investment you can’t afford not to make.
B2B research is an entirely different animal from the more common B2C (consumer) variety. Why is this? For starters, business customers are far savvier than regular consumers. They are typically in the market for tools that will enable their own companies to stay profitable and competitive, and chances are that they understand your product or service as well as – if not better than – you do. By contrast, the consumer marketplace is motivated by desire, style and prestige. Whereas consumer marketing initiatives can employ messaging that ranges from the general to the abstract, selling your product or service to a business client requires a more complex – and rigorously researched – marketing approach.
Another difference between B2B and B2C research stems from the fact that the B2B market is relationship-driven while the latter is product-driven. Because your product is the lens through which consumers view your company, all research within this sector focuses on the consumer’s interaction with your product (i.e., when, where and how they use it). B2B marketing research, on the other hand, measures the nuances of your relationship with your business customers. Whereas the endgame of B2C research is maximizing the value of the transaction, B2B research is intended to maximize the value of the relationship.
Scope isn’t nearly as important in the B2B sector as it is within the context of B2C. Mass-market consumers constitute a wide-ranging target for which brand identities are cultivated via the repetition of strategic imagery – imagery designed to trigger an emotional, impulsive, and one-step purchase at retail. The B2B market is smaller and more focused, hinging on a longer sales cycle with multiple points of purchase. Here, brand identity is based on a personal relationship between your company and your business clientele. Mass-market strategies such as merchandising and point-of-purchase activities are ineffectual in this context, as your target is accustomed to making rational purchase decisions based on long-term value assessments and extrapolations. B2B marketing initiatives must therefore speak in a very specific – and sophisticated – way that educates and builds awareness via tools like white papers, newsletters and media coverage.
Although less publicized than its B2C counterpart, B2B research is a critical tool for mitigating risk and maximizing opportunity across all sectors. By providing relevant insights about what products and services your business customers are seeking in order to maintain a competitive edge and bolster profitability, this highly nuanced strain of research enables your organization to reinforce its lifeline to long-term sustainability. Factors to consider when deciding on a B2B research firm include client lists, past results, customer satisfaction, and experience in your particular sector.