I recently read a study that clearly demonstrated the relevance of research in any B2B marketing campaign. Though it was actually for a health campaign, it told a lesson that holds true in B2B, and is thus worthy of discussion. The study’s focus was an organization attempting to motivate women for breast screenings. Data had shown that a particular community was not getting annual screenings, so a team created a communication campaign urging them to do so. The team developed their messaging and materials around educating women about the importance of yearly screenings, but as time passed the campaign did not appear to be working.
The team got back together to discuss, and decided to interview some individuals of their target audience to see what went wrong. In these interviews, they learned that education was not the problem access to screenings was. The women knew they were supposed to get yearly screenings, but had problems with actually getting there (such as travel arrangements, babysitters, etc). Armed with this information, the team created new messaging that incorporated what was relevant to the target audience.
The new messaging spoke directly to the target audiences ability to get a screening a concept known in social and behavioral science as self-efficacy. Research has shown that a persons ability to perform the desired action (such as buying behavior) can be an important factor in their motivation to do so.
For B2B marketers, the lesson here is clear: You simply cannot assume you know about the product/service you are marketing, or that third parties (such as your clients) do either. No matter how obvious a solution might be to you, it may not be the solution for your target audience. You must go out there, do your research and hear what they think. So remember, before you start any campaign, find out who youre talking to; then pick up a phone or make a meeting, and talk to them.