In my last post, I talked about the similarities across Corporate IT groups when it comes to pain and product benefits. This week I’d like to talk about key differences that are important to consider when doing research.
This is where segmentation comes into play – making sure you have enough participants of a particular type to represent the differences in your audience. How you segment, and whether you segment at all, depends on your goals.
For example, if you’re doing a message validation where the goal is to evaluate if you are communicating well about a specific pain or the benefits of your technology, there are a lot of similarities between different geographies and verticals. In this scenario, you don’t need to have a dozen participants from each of the 10 vertical industries you sell into to quickly get a very real sense of how your messages are resonating with a corporate IT audience.
However, in some scenarios, you will need to get representation from different areas. Of course every project is different, and we at Dimensional Research work with our clients to really understand specific goals and make sure we recruit the right representation from any segment to reach those goals. Here are a few general areas to consider.
The “Silos” of IT
Application Development, Production Operations, Security, … They all act very differently from each other. They have different cultures: development likes new features, while “change” often equates to downtime for production operations, and security would ideally prefer that nobody gets access to anything. They purchase differently. And (let’s be honest) these frequently have challenges communicating with each other. If you have a product that crosses IT silos, you need representation from each silo to understand purchasing behaviors, objections, etc.
Technical Buyer vs. Economic Buyer
The technical buyer will discuss features and functions. This is a comfort area for many technology companies and they’re more likely to “get” you and your product. However, the economic buyer is vital to tell you the non-product reasons why people buy – brand, sales execution, channel, financing, etc. You will need both types of participants to understand competitive dynamics and purchasing behaviors.
Government, Education and Non-profits can purchase very differently than IT in other vertical industries. If you are targeting those verticals, you need to talk to them specifically about how they buy.
Financial Services spends more on IT and is most likely to consider a new technology for competitive advantage.
ISVs and SAAS are organized and make purchase decisions much differently than corporate IT – although they often are an important market for technology vendors.
There are big differences in how these geographies actually purchase products. Culture can play a big part in acquiring a technology. European countries frequently prefer working with local representatives – regional offices or channel partners. Japan absolutely requires local language and culture in their purchasing process. Canada acts like an extension of the US in the way they purchase and can be easily combined with a general North American study.
Technology and Process Maturity
If you are selling a cutting-edge technology, the best places to do market research are the San Francisco Bay Area, New York, London, and Sydney. These are all cities with cultures of trying new things.
On the other hand, if you want ITIL process maturity, Europe is great. And I absolutely love the mid-west (Chicago, Minneapolis, etc.) for identifying “objections” in a very straightforward and honest way
Bottom line: You should work with your market researcher to figure out your goals and to determine which segments of the market you need to talk to. Then make sure you get the representation from these segments when executing your market research project.