“Build it and they will come” is an optimistic phrase that perhaps worked decades ago. Now we are in the era of exponential consumer choice available from the magic black rectangle in everyone’s pocket.
There are no longer any geographical barriers to content and fast-moving technological innovation means the goalposts are constantly moving. Today’s success story could be tomorrow’s failure. A recipe of ‘business as usual’ could leave a nasty taste in your mouth.
If you’re a business leader, you’ll know how important it is to understand your marketplace and your competition. Whether you’re driven by customer surveys, business intelligence or exploring those gut feelings, it’s up to you to overcome risks and push your company to the forefront.
However, there are areas where you need to look outside your perimeter and bring in a degree of outsider thinking. Reaching out for external advice has been a crucial stage in the evolution of the most successful companies.
Business advisory services aren’t just for start-ups, as many of the world’s well-recognized consumer brands continue to seek advice from these kinds of agencies.
What business advisory service is right for me?
Some business advisory services are rooted in specialisms, such as navigating through legal complexities or compliance with financial regulators. There are some agencies that do periodic work with specific departments, like updating procedures and policies for HR teams or optimizing a company’s entire IT infrastructure.
When it comes to focusing on business growth and transformation, there are extraordinary impacts attainable from delving into thought leadership. This is an area that is making huge leaps for companies operating in a wide variety of industries.
The biggest players in thought leadership services have been providing businesses of all sizes with crucial advantages, such as these:
- Competitive strategies
- Reputation enhancements
- Strengthened engagement with customers and prospects
- Driving business growth
How Does Thought Leadership Provide Business Advice?
To put it simply, thought leadership is made up of credible insights. This means steering clear of unproven claims and evidence-free boasts. When a proven thought leader provides advice, it has to be backed with integrity.
Integrity itself can be a contentious point of view. After all, it’s an intangible concept with a flexible definition. The leading services in thought leadership rely on data-driven insights. These are the outcomes of research projects carried out as part of meticulously crafted surveys.
What should guide your business decision-making?
A survey designed for thought leadership should be unique to your business and its position in the marketplace. Avoid any ‘one size fits all’ approach, as there’s no substitute for a plan that’s centered around your organization. If it’s not taking into consideration your aspirations, your weaknesses and strengths, then the success potential from the results is going to be restricted compared to a bespoke strategy.
There are positive steps an organization can embrace to move into untapped areas, increase revenue and substantially expand:
- White space analysis
- Target audience definition
- Survey design and instigation
What do you need from your white space analysis?
As well as looking at your existing product and service lines, it’s vital to get a sense of your target markets – what they are talking about and find important. Useful white space analysis will combine this with competitor intelligence and sentiment analysis. The analysis combined is a careful consideration of where you can cross-sell, upsell, grow and innovate, as well as where to position your thought leadership and industry challenges you need to have a voice on. The benefits of the right white space analysis are numerous:
- Innovation opportunities
- Cross-selling and upselling opportunities
- Improved customer relations and retention
- Expansion of your customers
- Optimization of sales procedures
- PR and communications opportunities
- Highlighting subject matter and industry expertise
Crafting your survey strategically
How you begin the survey phase is really crucial. Creating a list of questions seems like a simple step, but it really isn’t for the inexperienced. It also shouldn’t be an exercise to nudge people to the outcomes you want. It’s a nuanced and thoughtful process, which needs market knowledge and subject matter expertise to be combined with insights experience and audience understanding to get to the crux of the questions and the potential answers that will add value to thought leadership campaigns.
The end goal is to create a tapestry of rich insights, capturing people’s true sentiments. This means considering more than the typical ‘yes/no’ question sets. You may wish to have answer options based on numerical ratings, multiple-option checkboxes and rankings. Another way to understand passions and challenges is to present theoretical statements with answer options on an agreement/neutral/disagreement scale.
Resist the urge to include too many open-ended questions, which muddy the waters when it comes to data analysis and comparison and can put respondents off altogether. Likewise, making a questionnaire too long and complicated is a common pitfall, easy for the best in the business to fall in to.
Adding these dimensions to your survey will result in extensively detailed observations. This is the fuel for creating thought leadership content that truly stands out from your competition.
Pressing the launch button
Here’s the truly hard part. Delivering a survey to your staff is easy, surveying existing customers can be a challenge, but what can be practically elusive is finding prospective customers willing to give you their views. It’s not impossible, but does require a lot of time, investment and resources.
Thankfully, there is a shortcut. The answer lies in a dedicated thought leadership agency with research expertise. They should be able to carry out white space analysis and identify a target audience for you. A few specialists also have the resources to collaborate on creating a survey with data journalists to add more depth and layers of insight. Some may even be able to take your research to a selected panel or into the field for you.
One of the world’s largest proprietary survey panels of executives, managers and consumers can be reached through the advisory function from iResearch Services, as part of the Thought Society™ services.
How to address unmet customer needs
Thought Society also provides you with opportunities to collaborate at the survey design stage, where our dedicated professional research team will conduct white and grey space analysis using a rich bank of over 50,000 consumer data points that span multiple sectors. This leads to a blend of qualitative and quantitative approaches to produce rich and specific hypotheses filled with exciting potential.
A recent addition to this service is social media listening, where expert data analysts at iResearch Services discover emerging industry trends. By exploring these sentiments – the positives, the aversions and the neutral – the team can highlight optimal business decisions that will resonate with your target audience.
“Credibility is always coded into the DNA of the thought leadership we produce, with data forming the nucleus of every endeavor. We focus on evidence-based research, extracting insights from a diverse range of sources, ranging from competitor analysis to market research and data science. This approach forms the foundation of our thought leadership programs, instilling credibility and fostering trust for brands among their target audiences.” – Yi Ling Huang, Chief Innovation Editor at iResearch Services.
From these vast collections of data and from secondary research, our team is ready to unearth fascinating insights and, directed by your guidance, create ‘what if?’ scenarios to see which innovative directions will put your organization on the road to success.
Our research programs have consistently boosted revenue for our clients and we’ve been congratulated by industry leaders for our data-driven accomplishments in enhancing corporate reputations.
How it’s worked for major brands
iResearch Services worked closely on research for Brandpie, identifying ideas in their sector and helping shape the research scope for a report that surveyed 1,000 CEOs across seven countries. The advisory process included hypothesis testing and the production of narratives across company types, regions, sectors and business specialisms. The report became the most popular in their five-year history or running the survey.
Pegasystems approached us, wanting to build on its perception as a technology leader, showcase strengths in innovation and appeal to those in the C-suite. In our advisory stage we interviewed over 1,300 C-suite respondents across eleven countries and 7 sectors, plus a further 12 qualitative interviews for deeper insights. After going live, the client saw a 162% increase in activation engagement and a tripled campaign landing page conversions. The insights were picked up by local and global media, including Tech Republic. It also generated strong attendance in an accompanying event and webinar series.
If you’re looking for an expert-led, data-driven direction for the future of your business, take a look at Thought Society™, a thought leadership innovation hub that combines a suite of services to drive demand and strengthen your industry reputation.Back to Blogs