The best way to get to know your buyers costs nothing and takes no effort whatsoever. Establish a news feed (Google offers one, for instance) based on the keywords you think matter to your buyers. Set your preferences to get a daily email with links to any new web content and blogs published on that subject. If you notice that there is a lot of information you don’t want, refine the keywords until you see valuable results.
There is so much free, amazing information on the Web. Here’s one example I found today — a Ziff-Davis study that identifies the highest priority goals for CIOs in each of four areas: strategy, management, security and risk, and technology. If you sell to senior IT people, this is good stuff — free reports based on “thousands of interviews over the course of the last year.”
Let’s say you’re marketing knowledge management solutions. Check out the technology report and you’ll see that “improving the quality of our data” is one of the top IT priorities for 41% of the companies with revenues less than $100M, and only 25% of the companies with revenues over $1 billion. This doesn’t mean that you should ignore the larger companies, but it does give you a way to estimate the size of your addressable market. Read on and you’ll see that your ability to “convert raw data into accurate and actionable analysis” is a priority for 56% of respondents, while only 37% of them said that “managers often doubt the accuracy and reliabiity of the information.” This is good information when you’re choosing messages.
You don’t want to make decisions based on any single data point, but spend a few minutes each day reading what’s published online, and you’ll start to see patterns that result in more effective go-to-market strategies and optimze your PR, advertising, and marketing investments. No excuses now — listening to the market is far too easy and important.