This month sees two milestones; a new year and the first anniversary of this blog featuring in B2B Marketing Magazine.  What better time for a bit of re-invention.  The column should be relevant to the issues you face and those you’re curious about.  It should also ideally be a discussion.  So here’s the idea.  Each month I’ll create a thread on the B2B Marketing LinkedIn group where you can post a specific research dilemma, general question or just any interesting observations.  One or some of these comments will then form the focus for the column and hopefully subsequent discussion on the B2B Marketing blog.

To get things moving the first question comes courtesy of a response to B2B Marketing’s Editor Joel.  “What are the pro’s and cons of DIY B2B research?”

DIY research principally relates to online tools such as SurveyMonkey.  The concept is attractive.  A simple interface lets the user quickly and easily design an online survey which can be sent to anyone whose email address they have.  Better still, these tools are cheap or free.

Unusually for an agency man I think these tools have a role.  They’re great for taking an informal, dipstick of opinion.  They can provide PR material without costing more than the media exposure’s worth.  And for those with limited budget, some research is better than none.

But I would also warn caution.  DIY enthusiasts might paint the spare room but few would re-wire their home.  The same applies to DIY research.  It has a role but over-confidence can prove costly.  When the decisions to be made are important or deeper insights required to obtain a competitive edge, that’s the time to turn to the professionals.  Let’s remember that SurveyMonkey et al are simply vehicles to collect data.  Truly insightful research requires more.  The right questions need to be asked in the right way to the right people.  Those participating need to be reassured of confidentiality to avoid bias.  Most importantly, the resulting information needs to be interpreted to give it meaning; data needs to be analysed fully, nuances extracted and experienced judgments made about meaning.  Let’s also remember that research sends a message to your target market.  Done well it shows you care and that they matter.  Using cheap tools inappropriately however shows just how much you value their opinion.

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About Andrew

Andrew has specialised in B2B research for over a decade and co-founded Circle Research in 2006. He is a columnist for B2B Marketing Magazine, a regular contributor to Research Live and frequent speaker at leading events such as the B2B Leaders Forum, Customer Experience Live and the Social Media World Forum. Andrew is a Chartered Member of the MRS, teaches the MRS B2B research course and holds an MA in Psychology from Aberdeen University alongside an MSc in Marketing from Strathclyde University.

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