Market research: a little knowledge can go a long way

One area that is often overlooked in marketing and business development activities is research. The good news is that in the information age there is plenty of valuable material out there that is quick and easy to access. Below are a few tips on gathering key information that will help you gain valuable insight about prospects or stay up to date on the activities of a key client.

While ‘Google News’ may drive Rubert Murdoch a bit nuts, it is a great tool to use for keeping up to date with the press mentions of your corporate clients and prospects and specific individuals you may work with.

While you’re at it, why not schedule some time each week or month to check-out the websites of your clients to see what news they’ve announced recently. Many of your clients now have social media sites for all their news so staying up to date is even easier. Knowing what is happening in their business is a pretty important first step in demonstrating an understanding of their business and industry. But don’t stop there. Have you read their annual report and subscribed to their leading trade press magazine (and actually read it)? How about going to the a trade conference and take your client along with you?

When having a first meeting with a prospect there are many simple things that can be done to learn a bit about them personally. The first thing to do is to check their profile on their corporate site. But to learn a bit more, try Googling their name to learn about some of their interests outside of work.Their profile on LinkedIn or other social networking sites may tell you their career history and where they went to school.A fter all, when you’re first getting to know a prospective client, the objective shouldn’t be about making a sale, it should be about establishing a relationship. Knowing a bit about them will facilitate that process.

For professionals who are uncomfortable picking up the phone to touch base with a contact without a specific business reason, this type of simple research can effectively open the door to more regular dialogue, better rapport, enhanced understanding of client needs and more business.

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