Having accurate market information is crucial in any marketing, but it’s something which is often conveniently overlooked in niche technical areas, because it’s not available for sale: you need to do the original research for yourself. A marketing manager I know at a laboratory equipment supplier came from a job in the IT sector where most market data was only a phone call away, albeit an expensive one. He was disappointed (but hardly surprised) to discover that nobody was selling this sort of data when it came to scientfic equipment. But he did have a decent list of the prospects out there, of the extent which only companies in niche areas can assemble, and he told me that he’d decided from the outset to replicate the data he’d found useful in his previous job, but by researching it himself rather than by just buying it in.
So he put together a survey – using one of the many online survey services – and emailed it out to prospects using two or three different channels, getting “a decent response”. The survey had only a handful of questions, but ones he considered essential to making an informed decision on marketing spend. He then approached non-respondents with telephone and postal versions of the survey, which he tells me “was just about worthwhile”.
The result gave him genuine insight into what influenced his prospect base’s buying decisions. He also had separate sets of results for customers and non-customers, which is information that no third-party can sell you. It appears that his predecessor had built a marketing plan around experience and gut feeling, and I agreed: that’s simply not good enough nowadays …if it ever was.