As business owners it’s important that we conduct research. We need to know what our customers think about our brand, products and service. We need to know the journey they travel from awareness of our brand to the ultimate purchase of our product or service. We need to know what our competitors are doing and where we fit into the industry. The list goes on but behind many of our strategic business decisions should be (hopefully!) insights that have been gained from research. The thing is though, research can be used for so much more.
After more than a decade as a market research analyst and a small business owner I’ve noticed that there is a huge opportunity to use research in our communications content. Whether it’s utilising our own surveys and research or cherry-picking great stats from other sources, there is just so much scope to use research for promotional purposes.
Over the seven years my small business has been operating, I’ve conducted three separate surveys – all with the primary purpose of gaining insights into my industry and customers to set my business strategy for the year or two ahead. However, an added bonus of these surveys has been using the findings to create content, which has given me media coverage and years’ worth of content to use in my digital marketing efforts.
No matter the size of your business, from micro to large enterprise, here are five ways you can create killer content from research.
If you have access to a decent sized database or community, or are willing to pay for one, you can conduct your own survey and create a report from the findings. A well conducted survey and well-presented findings can help foster authority in your field. You can also use the report to capture email addresses in exchange for people accessing the report, and get media coverage should your research findings be newsworthy.
Speaking of media coverage, research can be used in media releases. You can use your own primary research findings as a headline for a release – or use secondary research to back up the main point of your release. This can help give the release – and your business – credibility and ensure the release is newsworthy, giving it more chance of being published.
Many businesses these days have a blog on their website and if you’re anything like me with my business, you’re constantly scouring your brain (and the internet) for ideas on what to write about. Your own primary research can provide numerous blog articles, as you can chunk down your findings into easy to digest stories. Likewise, secondary research can spark an idea for a blog topic. You might see a new statistic being published in your industry and it forms the basis of a great article. Or you could write an opinion piece based on a statistic you’ve seen.
Infographics are a great way to show statistics in an easy to read, and visually appealing format. You can use them in a blog article, as imagery on your website, or in social channels (they’re especially great for Pinterest). They have great shareability and can position you and your brand as a thought leader in your industry. Again, primary or secondary research can be used to create infographics – and there are a bunch of free tools, such as Canva and Piktochart, that can help you create them if you’re not a designer.
Social Media Content
This is the big one. Research is perfect to use for your social media content. Almost all brands can benefit from including research in their content. Whether it’s statistics on what customers are saying about a particular product, findings from a thought leader in your industry, or quotes from your target market on issues that are important to them – research can have a place. No matter the social channels that you use, research can fit in. The options are really endless. My one annual survey produces enough content for me to post 3-5 times a week for 2 years and that’s just one source!
There are just a few little tips to remember when it comes to using research:
- Primary & Secondary Research. It’s important to understand that there are two types of research – primary and secondary. Primary is research that you have conducted yourself (think surveys, interviews, focus groups etc) and secondary is research that is already available (think Australian Bureau of Statistics, research reports relevant to your field, studies etc). Both primary and secondary research can be used to create killer content.
- Check your sources. Wikipedia or your Facebook feed are NOT legitimate sources of research. Always be sure you’re using qualified information.
- Check your sample sizes. If you’re conducting primary research, make sure your sample sizes are adequate. A survey of 35 women is not an acceptable sample size for making decisions about your business or for using in a media release – but it could be used as a fun post in social media.
- Source your research. Always source your research, whether it’s your own primary research or secondary research. If you’re using statistics in a report or media release, make sure you also include sample sizes in your sourcing.
Research doesn’t have to be boring and it doesn’t have to be a one trick pony that just sits in a file or on your desk once you’ve used it for its original purpose. Think about how you can use research, whether it’s your own or other publicly available statistics, to develop killer content for your business.