In a crowded marketplace, how can market research help your company stand out? By doing things your competitors aren’t daring enough to try. So let’s have some fun.
Got a sample of something that you want your customers to try? Samples can be great incentive items. Survey incentives are typically along the lines of a few bucks, a free magazine subscription, or reward points. Why not a free sample of Product X?
Caution: Product X, whether it is a breakfast cereal, a subscription of some sort, the first chapter of a book or some other freebie, must be a no-strings-attached gift. Anything else is called selling under the guise of research. Not cool.
Of course, using your own products as a survey incentive should only be done if it won’t skew the survey results. For example, offering a product sample as an incentive to a customer satisfaction survey isn’t a good idea; only people who like your company enough to want its products would respond.
Who are your partners? Retail outlets, consultants, value-added resellers, manufacturers’ reps? Maybe market research isn’t in their budget, but they sure would like to do some. Build in a partner incentive. Sponsor a survey and give them real estate, sort of a timeshare project. In exchange, you might have them promote the survey link to their customers (if suitable for the project) or you might simply do this to help them be successful selling your product. In the B‑to‑B world, you might go to your top ten channel partners and offer each the opportunity to submit three questions to a questionnaire. You may receive a few that overlap, but you can condense and organize the questions as needed, and voila—data that you and your channel partners find very helpful.
FOLLOW THAT THOUGHT (LEADER)
Who are the consultants, analysts, columnists, bloggers and podcasters that influence your customers? You might be surprised. You might also find that their information needs aren’t being met. What if they’re dissatisfied with the sources out there? Can you fill that void? A nice, short survey can help you discover the thought leaders you should be engaging with, and which ones you can skip.
Fresh research is excellent fodder for press releases (the media has a thing for pretty charts and graphs, especially when they come with a catchy hook), blogs, and podcasts. Conduct a sharp survey, and then bring in someone to interview about their take on the results. Maybe a consultant, a business partner; maybe your own CEO. Then package the results as a news release, podcast, blog posts, newsletter fodder or YouTube video. Do be careful, of course. There is always some skepticism about research sponsored by a company with a stake in the outcome, so be impeccable. Hire an outside firm (for objectivity), and keep your methods above reproach.