Marketing research is critical, especially for service providers. It can make or break your strategy. In this article you will read the story of an online journey that resulted in new business for a home construction company, and research that sheds light onto the customer journey at large.
I’m a millennial homeowner, married with three kids. For some home services marketers, I’d be their ideal customer. But I represent a shrinking demographic. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, being a homeowner puts me in the company of roughly 1 in 3 of my millennial peers under the age of 35, which is significantly lower than previous generations.
Traditional ways of reaching this demographic profile aren’t working as well as they have in the past — radio hits, sponsorships, and direct mail are a few examples of these dying tactics.
Other channels, like social media, are growing in popularity. In fact, our research study on buyers of home services showed more than 93% of buyers were active on at least one social media platform.
For me, my preferred social platforms are LinkedIn and Twitter. Even on these less popular platforms, I see a fair share of advertisements and promoted posts.
Twitter, LeafFilter, and Acorn Bob
My kids call the old oak tree by our house “Acorn Bob” because it drops thousands of acorns on our roof every September. They hit our roof with a THWACK that can be heard throughout the house. Cleaning out those gutters is a pain.
One summer I saw a promoted Twitter post from LeafFilter about their gutter protection system. I watched the video, clicked through and booked an appointment. Ultimately I made the purchase.
Either it was purely coincidence, or they targeted the ad at my profile at the right time before the fall when I need gutter protection.
See also: How marketing alignment led the Mid-Atlantic’s leading roofing company to extraordinary growth.
That’s why it pays to do marketing research *before* launching a campaign. Because if you understand your buyer, you can market to them better.
What is marketing research?
Marketing research is used to identify opportunities and threats that influence marketing. It is used to create buyer personas, develop key messages, brand and content strategies. It’s a strategic weapon that can focus your marketing messages to appeal to your ideal customer.
Research answers key questions, like:
Who is your target?
Why is there a need?
When are they active?
How do they make decisions?
What are their emotional triggers?
Where do they go online to find info?
These are just a sample of questions that can help you understand your buyers. Learn more about Silverback’s research services.
1. Develop ideal customer profiles
There are great customers. There are terrible customers. Marketing and sales activity should focus on attracting the customers you want more of, and disqualifying the customers you know are not worth your time.
Marketing research can help you understand the demographic profiles and behaviors that make up your ideal buyers.
This helps you develop buyer personas, or ideal customer profiles, which can be tools to focus messages and better qualify business opportunities.
2. Refine brand differentiators
A differentiator is what sets your home services company apart from competitors. It’s what makes your brand unique. If you can truly claim and prove an aspect of your service that is relevant and valuable to your targets, it can strengthen your brand and market position.
This is especially important for home construction companies. In our research on buyers of home services, nearly 40% of home construction buyers had conversations with two separate service providers. This means focused marketing messages help buyers see what sets your business apart from the competition.
In the LeafFilter example, their differentiator is patented screen filter technology scientifically designed to keep everything out of your gutters — except for water. And it works.
With marketing research, you have an opportunity to uncover and refine brand differentiators. Some you might already know, but often this kind of research leads to new insights you haven’t considered before.
If you are losing out on price alone, it may be time to consider marketing research to help distance your brand from other home service providers, making you more valuable to the right targets.
3. Focus marketing messages
Marketing research helps marketers understand the emotional triggers of target customers and what incites them to take action. This is critical to developing the right messages and offers to use.
Inconsistent messaging can be a brand killer, especially if you offer a service where the messages are conveyed through human-to-human interaction between customers and sales representatives or account managers. Marketing research can help provide structure to these messages and get your staff aligned with your brand.
After I had clicked on that Twitter ad and booked an appointment with LeafFilter, a sales rep came out and gave a demo of the screen technology in-person. Because I’m a marketer, I recognized his pitch sounded very similar to the ad. He amplified the pain of cleaning gutters, and even connected the dots to how an effective drainage system can protect my home from a number of things, including roofing damage, rotting wood, basement flooding and foundation cracks.
4. Create compelling content
Marketing research can also be used to understand the specific pain points and challenges of your ideal customers. By creating content that speaks to these pain points, your content instantly becomes more relevant.
Successful content strategies require consistently publishing relevant thought leadership that speaks to your customer’s pain points. Doing this also has an impact on your company’s brand being seen as a trusted authority.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t share one last LeafFilter example. They created this visually appealing and humorous “clogged gutters flow chart” that helps illustrate the value of their product in a fun way that resonates with the core challenges of why someone would need their product.
Poor marketing performance is often a symptom of a larger problem — companies simply do not understand their target customers as well as they should. Doing marketing research can lay the foundation for a successful, high-performance marketing engine that drives more qualified leads and ultimately more revenue.
Silverback Strategies offers research services designed to understand your audience’s behavior to accelerate the performance of digital marketing campaigns.
If you understand your buyers, you can market to them better.