As a leader in home and building product marketing, Stoner Bunting consistently turns to research to inform, understand and predict.
To help you better understand our point of view on marketing research, agency blogger Bill Cook sat down with Managing Director Bob Fell and Creative Strategist Allison Schiding to discuss the importance of research. Here are highlights from their conversation:
Bill: Why is research so important today?
Bob: Simply put, because marketing is not about you (the manufacturer) anymore. It is all about the audience. In order to engage, you have to connect with them on their terms. And they simply won’t engage with manufacturer-centric content.
Allison: This is especially important in the home and building products industry, where you are talking to multiple audiences of influencers and decision-makers. Architects – designers – distributors – builders – contractors – facility managers. You have to approach them all differently. And you have to understand them to approach them. That’s where research comes in.
Bill: But as specialists in building products marketing, don’t you already know these audiences? Do clients really need to invest in more research?
Allison: That’s a great question – and one we have certainly heard before. As experts in this particular industry, we have a foundational understanding about these different audiences. For instance, we can tell you that contractors are highly risk averse and hesitant to try anything new unless someone they trust can vouch for it. We know that architects and designers look for different types of content depending on where they are in the life of a project – inspiration, ideas or information – and that they look to very different resources for each of those types of content. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. To really get to the heart of how your brand should communicate to an audience, you need to dig deeper.
Bill: And how do you do that?
Bob: The next level of insight is understanding how the audience relates to your product category: how it fits within the context of their life and work. How engaged are they in your product category, as compared to other products in their space? Is this a product they are excited to specify or a necessary evil dictated by code? What is their selection process? What are their purchase criteria?
A ceiling tile manufacturer can’t approach designers the same way as a contract textile brand, because they engage with those categories on entirely different levels.
From there, you can move on to learning how they relate to your brand in particular. How do they perceive your strengths and weaknesses? How do they perceive your competition?
Allison: I think it’s easy for marketers to assume they are OK with one or two of these levels – that general audience knowledge plus a brand study will tell them everything they need to know. But having that category-level perspective is incredibly important.
Of course, ideally, you want the whole top to bottom understanding whenever you possibly can. For research geeks, more information is always better.
Bill: Doesn’t that get expensive?
Bob: Not necessarily. We can mine a phenomenal amount of insight from focus groups. Depending on the location and the audience, you can conduct a handful for $50,000- $75,000. But even if you aren’t ready to invest at that level, there are always ways we can help you learn more about your audience.