Insights have exploded for good reason: They can disrupt your prospects’ world and give them the urgency and direction to do something different now.
The problem is, many of the insights circulating in the market today aren’t sufficiently different from the ones your competitors are putting out there. Sometimes they’re exactly the same. Or they’re simply providing information that’s true but ultimately useless in terms of getting your buyers to see their world differently and take action.
Quality insights are the lifeblood of great messaging and content. But if your insights look and sound a lot like everyone else’s, they’re in danger of becoming commoditized. And if your insights are commoditized, there’s a good chance your messaging and content are, too.
Research To The Rescue
As buyers get more discerning about the content they engage with, they’re going to start demanding a lot more rigor and credibility around insight selling.
In other words, if they’re going to carve time out of their day to read or watch or listen to what you’ve produced, you need to give them a payoff. That payoff typically comes in the form of interpretations, data, and perspectives that are credible and that they can’t find anywhere else. Original research—done well, and with the intent of unearthing something new that your customers will care about—has the potential to deliver these things in a bold and unique way, giving you access to insights and information that only you can claim, and allowing you to shape the conversation on terms that distinguish you.
Here are some pointers for leveraging original research and building it into your approach to messaging and content.
- Get Edgy And Counterintuitive – One trend that’s both a symptom and a cause of content fatigue is the repackaging of others’ original insights, which some then repurpose without adding anything new to deepen the conversation. That’s a recipe for sounding a lot like everyone and getting ignored by buyers. For your messaging and content to flourish, you need to take edgy, counterintuitive stands that challenge conventional wisdom and run against the grain of “best practices” and popular thought.
And most importantly, to do this well, you need to back your boldest claims with tested and proven research, so that you’re not just touting good feelings and hunches, but you’re getting behind actual principles supported by research that your buyers will find compelling and different from what they’re hearing in other watering holes.
- Provide Fresh, Forward-Looking Interpretations – The great thing about original research is that it generates original insights (i.e. data that you have and others can cite). But data points fall flat without a compelling narrative around them—one that’s forward-looking, fresh, and creatively spun. And make no mistake: There is serious demand for high-quality analysis in this vein. A survey from my company revealed the type of insights message B2B marketers and salespeople believe to be most impactful—so-called “visionary” insights, which provide forward-looking market perspectives—is used the least in marketing collateral, while the least effective type of insight—“anecdotal,” which are in-house and best practices-oriented—is used the most.
- Partner With A Pro – Developing rigorous, falsifiable research is no small undertaking, and it’s easy to see how the idea of incorporating it into a marketing program might seem daunting. To make that process smoother, my company formed a small research team within our company and contracted with a leading researcher, a professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business whose research interests—which include persuasion, messaging, and social influence—dovetail with many of the marketing and sales topics that we like to test in a formal environment.
The bar has never been higher for making an impact with your messaging and content, and today, with so-called “content fatigue” setting in, there’s a premium on fresh and original information.
Adding an original research component to your marketing activities is one of the best ways to establish yourself as a source of new insights among your audience. And the best part about it: When you do it well, you get the license to be a little more edgy in your messaging because you’re backing your case up with tested and proven data, not hunches and feelings.
Check out our new eBook, “Good Intentions, Wrong Instincts,” for an example of how to put first-party research into action in your messaging and content.
This article originally published in CMO.com