Hopefully, you took our advice and did some long-range planning a few months back – Finish Strong: 5 Things You MUST DO Before the End of 2016. Whether you did or did not, now is the time to plan for the research that will support your longer-term strategic planning efforts next year.
One of the most important – and most often overlooked – uses of marketing research is to provide information for long-term planning efforts. Especially in B2B companies that may not have a tradition of researching every question that pops up, there may be questions that have persisted for several years – or even forever – that we tend to live with until it comes time for our strategic planning sessions. “What do our customers like about our competitors’ brands and how can we compete with them?” “What is the role of our customers’ purchasing department and how can we influence it?” “How many of our customers are planning to make major capital investments in the next three years?”
Then, we want those questions answered fast and, usually, there is no longer time or budget to get the research done properly to produce the answers we need. Research takes time to do correctly, especially in B2B companies. B2B samples are smaller, and respondents are very busy and time-constrained. It often takes weeks to collect responses to a B2B survey, unlike consumer research that can now be completed in a matter of days.
As a result, we make our “best guesstimate” about those unanswered questions and muddle through. And then we forget about them until Strategic Planning time rolls around again the following year.
This year, plan ahead to get those questions answered for your executives:
- Determine the Questions. If you are not part of the planning process, interview executives who are and ask them what information was needed and not available? Do it now while memories are still fresh! This will also give you an opportunity to demonstrate how marketing research can be an important resource for all types of business questions.
- Plan for the Budget. Figure out how you will get the answers to those questions, and what that will cost. Keep in mind there may be secondary research that can help you get this information cost effectively (link to Clear Market Trends).
- Get Approvals. Communicate with those involved in Strategic Planning and let them know you’ll get them the information they need. Take this opportunity to confirm the information that is needed, and ask them for their support though the budget process.
- Plan the Work. Keep in touch with the Strategic Planners so that you ensure you have the research results well in advance of the planning process start dates. Often, getting these questions answered before the planning process can influence how planning proceeds, so make sure you deliver in a timely fashion. And that is usually well before the fourth quarter!
This is the perfect application of marketing research in a B2B setting. By leading your company in providing information needed to answer key strategic questions, you showcase your organization’s ability to assist in other business decisions, both large and small.
Learn more today at reports.clearseasresearch.com