How does a Market Intelligence business prove to its customers that it offers them great value for money and saves them time? The quality of its research and analysis might be high, but beyond gathering anecdotal feedback from users, how does it prove to customers that its meeting their needs?
A lot depends on the way the MI firm interacts with its customers. If it supplies content as PDFs, spreadsheets, or other documents that can be emailed or downloaded, the firm will be able to establish subjects in which the customer is interested, but that’s about it.
What they don’t know is how useful the document was, how it was used, how many people read it, and scores of other ways the customer might have interacted with the content. Establishing this level of detail will take lots of time-consuming and costly follow-up calls or interviews. Even then, the firm can’t be certain that what they’re being told is 100% accurate.
This information void makes it hard for the publisher to prove that its content is useful, used widely and that an investment in it represents good value for money.
Renewals and expectation
The problem of not being able to demonstrate the value provided to customers is particularly acute if the business model is dominated by subscription sales. The world is data-rich now and customers expect to be provided with information that lets them establish how much value – and how much time-saving – they’re extracting from their subscriptions.
At renewal time, if an MI firm can’t prove to the customer how well it’s being served, the customer will legitimately start to question whether its investment represents good value for money.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that the person tasked with negotiating the renewal isn’t always going to have the first-hand experience of the content you supply. Because they’ll be at least one-step removed, they’re unlikely even to have much anecdotal evidence about the quality of service.
Usage stats are the key. If a MI publisher can provide reliable data, not only can it prove its value to the customer, it can legitimately enter negotiations expecting not just to renew, but to enhance the relationship through tailoring the packages it offers to meet the specific needs of each account.
Here are just a handful of questions that usage stats could help to answer:
- Who accessed content?
- What content did they access?
- How often was content accessed?
- What dominated search terms?
- What content was popular?
- What was shared?
- Did any communication exist around particular content?
- What were the key categories and topics?
- What formats were most favourable?
- How was content re-used once it had been accessed?
- How many man-hours did users typically save with easy access content and workflow tools?
Of course, a MI publisher won’t be able to gather data like this unless it uses a smart platform to manage its content delivery and user access. Such is the growing need to provide clients with detailed information on their usage, however, it won’t be long until all publishers are compelled to start using a platform that enables them to demonstrate their usefulness to customers.
In addition to simply being able to provide detailed usage feedback, publishers will start to rely on this information, so they can assess the use of their platform and constantly provide the best possible service to their customers.
These requirements mean that within around five years, either through attrition or innovation, the businesses that make up the MI sector will be dominated by those who can provide customers with both high-quality research and detailed information on how that research is used.