Research adds value to the marketing activities for your building materials brand. The discoveries you make during the research process can add credibility to design, copy, or brand messages before they launch.
But research can be expensive. And since you need to launch a campaign that produces results, you can’t afford to spend your entire marketing budget upfront.
The challenge lies in finding the appropriate balance. Because with the right amount — and the right kind — of research, your marketing initiatives will be better informed, and your building materials brand will rise above the competition.
Research should uncover a unique insight for your brand
When it comes to elevating the position of your building materials brand, research that only validates what you already know won’t offer much value. Instead, set out to learn something new about the market, your competition, or your customers.
You’re on a quest to find your edge — a competitive advantage that will elevate the messages you deliver to your target audience. Relying only on information about products and processes won’t help you create more impactful brand messages. But a unique and ownable insight will make your marketing campaigns sharper and drive positive results for your business. That’s what your research should help you uncover.
4 (scalable) steps for impactful research
Your research efforts should be purposeful and lead to a specific finding, so a scalable process is crucial. The combination of third-party (“desk”) and first-party research (in-depth interviews) allows you to go only as far as is necessary. Once you’ve uncovered your insight, you can move directly into execution. That saves both time and money.
Each research activity should build on the previous one, moving you from a broad understanding to something more specific. Sequencing your research this way can also help quickly uncover what makes your brand stand out.
1. Competitive research sets the stage
A firm understanding of your competitors will underscore all your future research work. That’s why we recommend starting with a competitive analysis.
The objective here is to understand where your building materials brand sits in relation to others in the industry. But it’s more than just copying and pasting information from the websites of your competition. It’s reviewing and analyzing their web properties and social pages to understand what they are doing — their market position, service offerings, how they talk about themselves, etc.
You can use what you learn from the competition to inform your marketing campaigns, so pay close attention to the writing (headlines and copy) and imagery. Look for examples that you find exemplary, or even bad — especially when your competitors discuss similar product or service offerings to yours.
The output of this step will be a take on your competition that answers two questions. How is your competition positioned to win (or not win) business? And how does that stack up against your current position?
2. Industry research validates trends/issues
Once you understand your competitors, it’s wise to validate your understanding of what’s happening in the industry. This isn’t an exhaustive study of the current state. Instead, it’s gathering enough information to ensure you know what’s happening.
Reviewing stories in trade publications and looking at social media headlines keys you into the most relevant conversations. Armed with this information, you can keep your marketing messages tonally in sync with the undercurrent of the industry. And, if you can uncover a trend or issue before your competition, the door is open to elevate your brand’s position.
3. In-depth interviews with company leadership reveal new perspectives.
Your internal teams are a treasure trove of knowledge about your industry, brand, and customers. The combination of backgrounds and real-world experience brings a variety of perspectives that can translate into impactful insights.
The number of interviews you’ll need depends on the goals of your research. That’s true for who you should interview as well. For example, if you’re launching a new product, you’ll want to talk to the head of product development. If it’s a new brand position, schedule time with the CEO to understand the vision and business impact.
Your sales and marketing teams — and others in your organization who have regular customer interactions — are also worth interviewing. But the conversations should move past what they do and how they do it. Work to uncover the information in their heads. What is their viewpoint on the competitor take you discovered in your earlier research? How do they think current industry trends will impact your business? What are they seeing as the most significant pain points for your customers?
The proper preparation for each conversation is crucial. Tailor questions to each individual (i.e., not the same for everyone). The goal here is not consensus-building or leading everyone to the same conclusion. It’s to uncover something true only for your building materials brand.
4. Customer conversations dig deep to understand specific motivations.
Customer interviews typically require more effort and can be more expensive than other research methods. But the outputs help you better understand the mindset of your customers and can be invaluable to your marketing efforts.
It’s important to keep scale and your campaign goals in mind at this stage. You’re not looking for quantitative data, so the number of people you need to talk to is lower. We typically recommend 7 to 10 customers. Like your internal interviews, this is more than just a surface exercise to gather demographic information. The goal is to understand what motivates your customers, how they think about a concept, or what it’s like to be them.
The key findings from competitive and industry research and the perspectives gleaned in leadership interviews can inform your customer conversations. For example, you might ask customers why they choose your brand over the competition. Or you might talk to them about their best (or worst) day on the job. The way that only your brand can respond to customers’ responses becomes your insight.
Why your marketing agency is a good research partner
Finding the most efficient, most impactful way to conduct research is paramount. That’s where your marketing agency can step in as an invaluable partner.
At Point to Point, we’ve worked with a wide variety of clients to uncover industry, brand, and customer insights. This work positions us to know exactly what to look for and when we’ve revealed that bespoke, ownable piece of information for your brand. That means we can scale research to precisely the right amount and preserve the remainder of your budget for execution.
Using the same agency for research and execution also means that findings can be integrated into campaigns quickly and consistently. There’s no need to wait for a research firm to interpret and pass the information to your creative agency. Instead, your research will immediately impact the messaging and visuals, providing the most value possible from your marketing dollars — and the most significant impact on your campaigns.
Interested in learning more about our scalable approach to research? Let’s talk.