The Internet is flooded with products and services that offer customers more choices than ever before. This has made the job of differentiating your products and services all the more difficult, which gives credence to the importance of understanding your marketplace, your competition, and how your company can effectively compete.

Knowing the all-importance of developing long-term customer relationships is placing heavy demands on marketers everywhere. This is why the term, market research, should not scare you off but is an activity you regularly engage. By using market research you can comb through the myriad of factors confronting your company or possibly confounding it, and pinpoint a clear and focused strategy to drive your entire marketing program.

Researching your market can provide your business with specific snapshots of key insights on how to win more attention and close more deals. That should be reason enough, but here are a few more. Good market research can let you know what your customers really think about you. It can tell you if your pricing is too high, too low, or just right. And it can let you know if you need to change any of your products or add new ones.

In our many years of consulting we have consistently observed that many troubled companies got that way because they didn’t want to allocate market research to their marketing spend, preferring to invest heavily in awareness building and lead capture. Don’t misunderstand, these are good and useful dimensions as well. However, think about it. If you don’t research your customers, prospects, competition, and overall marketplace isn’t that a lot like shooting at a flying duck with your eyes closed!

Today, every company is its own publisher and responsible for its content. This fact has shifted the ability to make strategic decisions for the company, and less from marketing firms and industry publishers. The good news is you’re in control. The bad news can be, if you’re not experienced in strategic marketing and/or publishing that you are in control!

This paradigm shift allows organizations like yours an enormous opportunity to take charge using blogs, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and the many other online platforms to engage your customers and prospective customers. However, it has also provided the opportunity to overspend in some areas and underspend in others, in terms of budgeted time and dollars. Here are a few tips to keep in mind while leveraging your foundational market and customer insights:

1)    Use a clear call-to-action proposition

2)    Provide client success stories

3)    Provide two layers of information: Overview and detail, not necessarily together or on the same page

4)    Employ high-quality images throughout all of your inbound and outbound marketing

If you focus on the right strategy that your customers will respond to best, you’ll develop a winning marketing formula. Yes, your total marketing budget is important, but how your customers and prospects engage with your product or service across channels is the key issue. Research shows that for everyone in the developed and linked up world, his or her products must both meet their needs and be easy to use. Determining the right customer engagement strategy will pay dividends for years to come.