Much has been said – on this blog, in particular – about SEO and the importance of adding fresh content to B-2-B websites to compete with companies with more resources and expensive AdWord campaigns. A two-pronged attack of crafting content to reflect high-volume keywords as well as specific keywords that help broadcast you company’s flagship products and services is essential to carving out precious SERP real estate, especially for small-to-midsize B-2-B marketers.

Equally important to using digital marketing tools to send your message out is using the web to collect prospect information in order to create a more customized marketing approach. This often involves utilizing creative search methods to identify a range of new markets that may be ideal for your company’s products and services. Thinking more abstractly to uncover new applications for your company’s innovations, whether they be in product design or customer service, is a little like trying a new fishing lure: it may take more time to use it right and in just the right way, but it may be the only way to catch something you haven’t caught before.

online market research

Innovation generally follows market research, so mining benefit and message keywords and combining them with some fresh concepts that loosen the context could turn up new companies in new marketplaces. For example, if your company has designed a laboratory product that performs a delicate function faster without sacrificing precision, you may want to consider other ways “lab research, speed and precision” may be important in other delicate applications. Searching “fast and precise lab equipment” or taking it further with “emergency lab processes” an onward down the rabbit hole may lead you to content on competitor websites and online industry trades (both effective sources for search inspiration), but could also highlight clues to niche marketplaces like mobile health services in hurricane-hit regions where speed and precision saves lives. At that point, you’re onto practical emergency healthcare solutions as a general topic and off you go.

Once unique markets are uncovered and prospects identified, it’s time to dig deeply into these worlds and extract as much enlightening information about each company that you can. Counter to the “wide net” or “mud against the wall” methods of converting prospects into customers, spending less time on spamming the globe and more time on vigorously vetting highly qualified leads could yield better results. To do this, you have to be uncommonly thorough. Every piece of information on a company’s website has gone through countless rounds of revisions, and if it made it to a page that company feels it’s important. Read everything and get a sense of the people behind the message. Scour their news sections and learn if they’ve been acquired or have acquired another company. Find them on social media and take a peek at their trade show photos. Absorb their messaging with the understanding that they, too, deliberate well into the night about relatively minor company decisions. Spot their techniques for standing out and then incorporate that information into your communications. It sounds a little like cyberstalking, and perhaps it is, but if your intentions aren’t nefarious your prospects will appreciate the time you took to get to know them.

Doing your homework is essential to connecting with a prospect, but really getting to know them may require a more straightforward approach. Digital surveys about their current interests and experiences will help you avoid retreading old ground and poking old wounds. Also, asking them to point to online products and solutions they find interesting but perhaps limited in some way could lead to mind-blowing win-wins. Some answers are best found together, and prospects that utilize their own research methods could inform your own. Hey, the Internet is a living market research tool and always evolving. Anyone who says they’re an expert is probably falling behind.

It’s tempting to use the Internet like a blaring horn playing your message repeatedly into well known marketplaces, but using it as a tool to quietly research and refine your approach to new business may be a better way to be heard.

– S. Norton

For more information on using online market research to refine your marketing approaches, feel free to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation. Or, simply fill out our short contact form.

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