“How do I make my [marketing campaigns, social posts, blogs, etc.] stand out?” This is by far the most common question I get from talking with hundreds of B2B marketers each year.
The reality is that most B2B marketers don’t understand their target audience well enough to create marketing campaigns that cut through the noise and grab prospects’ attention. In a sea of competing messages, how can you ensure your B2B marketing efforts stand out to prospects and drive meaningful results for your business?
The answer lies in conducting customer research and interviews. This simple yet often overlooked strategy can provide a deep understanding of your customer’s needs, desires, and pain points. This understanding becomes the driving force behind capturing buyer attention, building engagement, generating more traffic, growing your pipeline, and ultimately producing revenue.
Why Customer Research for B2B Marketers Matter
Customer research goes beyond surface-level assumptions and generic personas. It involves engaging in meaningful conversations with your customers, delving into their experiences, and unearthing the genuine reasons behind their choices. It serves as your compass, guiding your marketing efforts in the right direction.
The Game-Changing Potential of Customer Interviews
I recently interviewed Ryan Gibson with Content Lift. He is one of the top thought leaders in customer research. We discussed how customer interviews can be a game changer. You can listen to the entire Demand Gen Jam Session here.
Ryan shared this graphic and mentioned that these interviews help us understand the customers’ journey, from problem-unaware (far left side) to actively seeking a solution. They reveal how customers research and evaluate options, including ours and competitors, and why they choose us. As a marketing team, we often focus on the evaluation stage (right side of the graphic), but we need to influence buyers earlier when they’re passively looking and learning. Customer interviews provide insights that sales conversations don’t cover, helping us shape impactful marketing strategies.
Understanding Customer Behaviors is Key to Standing Out
To truly understand customer behaviors, you need to have conversations with them. Dive deep into their experiences; you’ll uncover valuable insights into why they make their choices and how it shapes their buying journey. In this article, we’ll unlock the power of customer research for B2B marketers, so you can get to know your audience like never before and use those insights to revolutionize your marketing strategy.
What is Customer Research for B2B Marketers?
B2B customer research is an investigative process with customers to understand why they choose to engage with your brand. These structured conversations help you understand customer needs, challenges, and how you compare to competitors. B2B includes gathering data on the buying journey, brand perception, product fit, customer service, and sales and marketing strategies.
Driving Meaningful Results with Customer Insights
Insights gained from customer interviews are the only way to get inside your target audience’s head. When conducted properly, these interviews can supercharge your marketing efforts in ways that personas, assumptions, or eavesdropping on sales calls simply can’t match.
In the complex world of B2B sales, where self-education, buying committees, and thorough evaluations of alternatives reign, customer interviews are an absolute must. They hold the key to revealing audience motivations, needs, and the driving forces behind their decision-making.
Customer interviews will help you align your messaging with how customers speak about their problems and your solution. When you become a part of the conversation already going in their head, you’ll grab their attention and create meaningful connections.
Don’t Bet Your Success on Opinions or Assumptions
Don’t leave your success to chance by building your marketing strategy on assumptions or opinions. That’s like walking a tightrope blindfolded and can lead to wasted time and money. In the example below, discover how relying on personas based on assumptions can miss the mark.
You know the saying about opinions…everyone has one.
Personal biases, internal politics, and other catalysts influence personal opinions. One person’s or team’s viewpoint doesn’t represent the entire customer base, especially if they aren’t the customers themselves. Everyone believes their perspective is correct. When someone suggests, “The customer thinks this way,” or “You guys should do this,” it’s essential to ask, ‘What data supports their decision?’
Customer research for B2B marketers is a reliable source of valuable insights that removes the blindfold. It helps us understand how and why customers choose your company from their perspective—the only one that truly matters.
A 4-Week Journey to Harnessing Customer Insights
Here is a simple 4-week roadmap to help you harness the power of customer insights that will transform your marketing strategy into a customer-centric powerhouse:
Week One & Two
Dedicate weeks one and two to delving deep into the minds of your past buyers. Pick 7-10 customers that represent your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) and focus on uncovering:
- The moment when they first became aware of “the problem.”
- Gain an understanding of why they sought an external solution.
- Explore their journey in searching for viable solutions.
- Learn how they evaluated the available options on their shortlist.
- Discover the tangible outcomes they achieved through utilizing your product or service.
Use this week to consolidate and organize the data you’ve gathered. It’s time to find the patterns and trends that emerge from these enlightening interviews.
- Identify critical insights: Identify the most important and relevant insights that align with your business goals and objectives.
- Spot recurring themes: Look for patterns, common responses, and consistent customer feedback.
- Identify outliers: Look for data points or trends that deviate significantly. They offer possible insights into emerging trends and untapped opportunities.
- Prioritize actionable insights: Focus on insights that can be directly translated into actionable strategies and initiatives, prioritizing those with the potential for high impact and feasibility.
In week four, the real magic happens:
- Turn business problems into compelling “how to” content.
- Turn pain points and emotional language to craft captivating copy.
- Turn customer experiences into gripping case studies, testimonials, and social proof.
Don’t keep this treasure trove of insights hidden. Distribute this valuable content across channels where your target buyers congregate and go to learn. Ensure your marketing strategy remains straightforward and covers every customer buying journey stage. Most importantly, infuse it all with the authentic voice of your customers.
Gaining Valuable Insights Through Targeted Questions in Customer Interviews
Unlocking valuable insights requires asking the right questions. Here are 11 powerful questions that can guide you in understanding your customers, inspiring your marketing efforts, and enhancing the impact of your content:
Q1) 𝐇𝐨𝐰 𝐝𝐢𝐝 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐧 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐬𝐨𝐥𝐮𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧?
You’ll discover what created awareness and demand for your offer.
Q2) 𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐚𝐜𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐩𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐬𝐨𝐥𝐮𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧?
Their answer will give you the “work at hand” in their language.
Q3) 𝐇𝐨𝐰 𝐰𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐝𝐨𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐢𝐭 𝐛𝐞𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐩𝐮𝐫𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐬𝐞𝐝 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐬𝐨𝐥𝐮𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧?
Gain insight into the “old way” buyers try to get the work done. Use this to position your solution as the new/better way.
Q4) 𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐛𝐥𝐞𝐦 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐰𝐚𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐬𝐨𝐥𝐯𝐞?
Discover their real needs/pain. Don’t be afraid to dig and ask more Why questions. (i.e., ‘Why’why was that a problem?’)
Q5) 𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐭𝐢𝐩𝐩𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐩𝐨𝐢𝐧𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐜𝐚𝐮𝐬𝐞𝐝 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐭𝐨 𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐫𝐭 𝐥𝐨𝐨𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐚 𝐬𝐨𝐥𝐮𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐬?
Their answer will be the catalyst. You will want to agitate this pain in your content.
Q6) 𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐤𝐞𝐩𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐦𝐨𝐯𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐰𝐚𝐫𝐝 𝐬𝐨𝐨𝐧𝐞𝐫?
You’ll discover “the pain of change” & other objections you will need to overcome.
Q7) 𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐨𝐩𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬 (𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐧𝐚𝐥 𝐨𝐫 𝐞𝐱𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐧𝐚𝐥) 𝐝𝐢𝐝 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐬𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐫?
Learn your competitors or other methods for dealing with the issue.
Q8) 𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐝𝐨 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐛𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐬𝐨𝐥𝐮𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧?
Discover features, people, and elements that make their lives better.
Q9) 𝐇𝐨𝐰 𝐢𝐬 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐬𝐢𝐭𝐮𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐝𝐢𝐟𝐟𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐧𝐨𝐰 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐮𝐬𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐬𝐨𝐥𝐮𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧?
You’ll learn what their “better tomorrow” looks like. You can also turn these answers into testimonials.
Q10) 𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐭𝐲𝐩𝐞 𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐨 𝐆𝐨𝐨𝐠𝐥𝐞 𝐢𝐟 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐰𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐥𝐨𝐨𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐬𝐨𝐥𝐮𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧?
Discover critical key phrases.
Q11) 𝐇𝐨𝐰 𝐰𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐝𝐞𝐬𝐜𝐫𝐢𝐛𝐞 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐬𝐨𝐥𝐮𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐭𝐨 𝐚 𝐩𝐞𝐞𝐫?
Learn how to talk about your solution in the language they use with their peers.
Increase your chances of unlocking great insights by asking one question at a time. Then, dig deeper and pay attention to their answers and the reasons behind them. Ask follow-up questions that unveil the true motivations. For instance:
- Could you elaborate on that?
- I’d love to learn more about it.
- Can you expand on that?
- Why is that?
Take these questions with you by downloading our customer interview guide.
Keep the conversation flowing, and you’ll uncover the valuable insights you’re after. One last tip: Don’t forget to record the interviews!
Don’t Just Talk To Customers; engage in Conversations to Gain Insights
Unlocking powerful customer insights is a game-changer for generating demand with customers. You can significantly improve your marketing strategies, content, and messaging by conducting thorough research and understanding your customers.
By asking the right questions, identifying patterns, and translating those insights into actionable strategies, you’ll be well-equipped to deliver impactful marketing campaigns and drive your business forward. So, don’t underestimate the power of customer research—start applying these tips today and unleash the true potential of your B2B marketing efforts.
Key Takeaways for Conducting Customer Research:
By following these key takeaways, you can harness the power of customer research for B2B marketers and apply it effectively to elevate your B2B marketing game, drive customer engagement, and achieve business success.
- If you don’t interview customers, your content will lack relevance and sound like everything customers consume online.
- Customer interviews are critical for understanding audience motivations and needs.
- Understand audience motivations and needs through interviews.
- Building personas on assumptions without research is insufficient.
- Align messaging with customer language for resonance.
- Sales calls and customer service opinions and perspectives offer limited insights.
- Analyze data for patterns, trends, and outliers.
- Translate insights into actionable strategies aligned with goals.
- Collaborate across teams for a holistic approach.
- Prioritize actionable insights to improve marketing and experiences.
- Asking the right questions deepens understanding and unlocks insights.
- Record interviews to capture valuable insights for reference.
How Can We Help?
At Vende Digital, we are committed to assisting you in your customer research journey and taking your B2B marketing to the next level. Our team of experts is ready to support you every step of the way. Schedule a Strategy Session today to discuss how we can tailor our services to meet your specific needs and help you unlock the full potential of customer research for B2B marketers. Let’s win together!