How to Cut Your Research Time in Half
5 ways AlphaSights has changed how marketing and advertising agencies access primary insights
AlphaSights recently hosted a happy hour for creative leaders in marketing and advertising in the New York City area to talk about how they utilize primary research to 1) inform their deliverables for their clients and 2) drive their internal strategic decision-making. With increasing scrutiny around marketing and advertising budgets, it’s ever important that agencies have the right tools to paint a detailed picture of the buyer persona and buyer journey in order to create strategies that best target them.
While agencies have typically leveraged demographic and ethnographic reports to understand the audiences of their clients, we’ve seen an increase in agencies reaching out to AlphaSights for direct connections to subject matter experts in order to supplement these insights.
According to our marketing and advertising clients, there are five reasons that leveraging AlphaSights’ knowledge-search service has allowed them to get a leg up:
Reason One: Direct access to experts in minutes, not hours
Prior to creating content, campaigns, website designs, etc. agencies need to understand the dynamics of the industry they are working in and the purchasing journeys of the customers in this space. Typically, they will begin their projects with desktop research, spending hours scouring the Internet for reports and information on the client and its audiences. However, the level of relevant information that they’re able to access is not as in-depth and can often feel generic.
At that point, agencies may attempt to leverage their own internal networks or that of the end client to get in touch with recommended subject matter experts who can answer their questions. However, this process can be tedious, timely, and risk the likelihood of biased results. Furthermore, since many times these are experts that are ‘approved’ by the client, it does not give the agency a chance to ask challenging questions, objectively review inefficiencies in the current process, and suggest new strategies.
By partnering with AlphaSights, a third party is involved and inherently ensures that the agency gets unbiased information quickly. In under 48 hours, we are able to connect our clients with experts, who in turn, craft the foundation on which strategies are based. Depending on the goals of the initial research, we can engage different experts who have many varying vantage points like industry thought leaders, current customers of their client, current customers of a competitive offering in the space, and channel partners/resellers, just to name a few. These conversations can be either blinded and unblinded, allowing agency strategists the ability to get real insights and unfiltered responses.
Reason Two: Deeper understanding of audiences and niche industries
Receiving feedback and stress-testing new concepts may feel seamless when your colleagues, friends, and family are the target buyer for a new salty snack brand you’re tasked with marketing – but how many Orthopedic Surgeons or Chief Information Officers do you have access to get insights from when it comes time to impress your clients in the medical device or software security industries?
When representing a corporation, agencies can be responsible for specific sectors or business units that have niche buyer personas. A leading medical devices F500 corporation can have upwards of 500 products that it is selling to different end markets across the globe. While industry and consumer reports can help, they are unable to tell the full story of the people who use the products – especially if the product is new to the market and an agency is responsible for its go-to-market marketing strategy.
In order to best target the relevant audiences, agencies need to know exactly who needs the product or service, what features are most relevant to the customer’s experience, and ultimately how the customer would like to hear from the client. Leveraging 1-1 connections or panels of experts can allow agencies to access customer insights that they would be unable to get otherwise.
Reason Three: Ability to navigate challenging and changing dynamic markets
Oftentimes, a client can hire an agency on retainer and not necessarily update them proactively on shifts in their markets or even within their company itself. We have worked with several agency professionals to leverage our service when their end client is experiencing an internal or external shift – be it a merger, business unit sale, or acquisition. These can be stressful for agencies as they work to maintain or grow their footprint despite clients dynamics becoming increasingly difficult.
By facilitating calls between our clients and industry leaders, agencies are able to better understand how they will work with the ‘new’ marketing teams, better position themselves with the ‘new’ company, and ultimately reduce the risk of losing the account’s business.
Reason Four: Creation of more meaningful RFP responses
Requests for proposal (RFP) can take time, money, and employee resources away from agencies without guaranteeing a return on the investment, i.e. winning the deal. The agencies we work with have told us that these RFPs are thought of as the lifeblood of maintaining growth at an agency. Given this, it is not surprising that we consistently hear that there is less scrutiny on spending additional resources to gain a competitive edge to answer an RFP compared to nearly any other activity an agency will participate in.
To have an advantage in the pitch process, agencies have leveraged AlphaSights calls as a means to get smart about an industry and speak the same language as their potential client. We can connect our clients with expert advisors who are former executives from the business unit that the agency is pitching to ensure they best understand what the client is looking for and would most benefit from in an agency partnership.
Beyond that initial call, our agency partners have also scheduled in-person meetings with these advisors to conduct ‘mock-pitches’ and receive live feedback on how to improve prior to their pitch.
Reason Five: More time for actual strategy and the client deliverable
At large, agencies have expressed that their research process over the course of a campaign or client relationship has traditionally taken a significant portion of time away from actually delivering on client requests. Our agency partners explain that by utilizing our service, they are able to cut their research time in half and capitalize on stronger research findings throughout the entire process and not just the beginning of a project.
Once our agency partners win the new business, they typically include their end client on the calls we set up so their end client can hear directly from subject matter experts and ask questions on their own. If the end client cannot join, we often will arrange for the calls to be transcribed. The agency will include the transcripts in their deliverable and serve as proof of concept for their campaign.
Beyond calls, we’ve partnered with agencies to leverage advisors for more creative projects like user testing and campaign feedback. For example, we provided experts access to agency-made websites before it was pushed live to the public. Our clients were able to leverage heat mapping in order to optimize user experience and confirm if, and which parts of the page will resonate with the future users.
Get In Touch
If any of the above resonate with you, feel free to get in touch (firstname.lastname@example.org) and consider how AlphaSights can add value to your work.
Abby Hohenschuh joined AlphaSights in July 2016 and serves as a manager on our Corporate accounts team.