The main advantages of using research as content for micro and startup consultancies are:
Let me elaborate on how you can leverage research in your marketing and business development.
A single research report is actually a goldmine for your content calendar. You don't just publish a report and move on. You can extend its life by breaking it down into blog posts, articles, and other types of content. This way, you get more bang for your buck and keep your audience engaged over a longer period.
Interactive events like webinars or live Q&A sessions are another great way to use your research. They allow you to talk directly to your audience and offer them real value in real-time. You can also present the insights in the form of exclusive presentations to key clients - consulting buyers typically love to hear about industry trends and benchmark how they’re doing against others.
But let’s take a step back, and move away from content creation for a second.
Even if you do not have a large audience and/or the capabilities to consistently publish content yet, there are two research benefits that I believe are overlooked by consultancy founders: Being informed of changes in your target market’s reality, and having a client-centric approach to contact new prospective buyers.
First, the better you know your target market, the better you can tailor your services to meet those specific needs. It's not just about throwing solutions at a problem; it's about offering the right solution for the right problem. And having data to back up your position and methodology.
Second, research can serve as a respectful touchpoint when reaching out to dream clients. Instead of cold-calling with a generic sales pitch, you can initiate contact by either sharing a piece of valuable research or inviting them to take part in the research (and getting access to the results and exclusive insights later for free).
This approach not only demonstrates your expertise but also provides immediate value to the recipient. It shifts the conversation from "Here's what we can sell you" to "Here's how we can help you." It positions you as a trusted source of value and lays the foundation for a future relationship.
Why It Matters for Startup Consultancies
Micro and boutique consultancies operate in a unique space. We don't have the luxury of a big brand name or a large marketing budget. What we do have is the ability to move fast and innovate. Research as content fits right into this.
Research lets you quickly establish thought leadership and find your niche. Research offers an excellent return on investment because you can repurpose it in so many ways. Research is highly effective in building relationships and acquiring new clients, communicating competency, credibility, and reliability.
And if you're worried about the costs, remember you don't have to do it all yourself. You can license third-party research or even collaborate on co-branded research projects. Feel free to reach out if you’d like to learn more about it.
As you plan your marketing and business development initiatives for next year, think about research as content. It's not the only effective tactic to drive growth, but it's a solid one with unique advantages. It's an option worth considering, especially if you're in it for the long haul.
“You can differentiate your practice by who you focus on, what you do for them, or how you do it. That last “how you do it” often shows up as a process, but typical process is shallow and even hollow. It isn’t all that proprietary, normally, and there’s no moat around it. In other words, process is easy to copy and then borrow, rendering your offering commonplace.
But the deeper you look into what your clients are facing, the more you can unravel the real issues… and compare their challenges to some normative standard. You’ll see a glimmer of the solution; it’ll catch your eye as it passes, and if your antennas are tuned to pick up those signals, you’ll quickly jot down a deeper pattern to research.”
Firms experiencing the fastest growth - an average annual rate of 41.5% - were three times more likely than their slower-growing peers to publish original research as marketing content.
Source: Hinge’s 2019 High Growth Study
Are you confident that you understand the pain points, needs, and aspirations of your target market? Could research deepen that understanding?
Many consultancies believe they know their audience inside and out. But when we take a closer examination, their narrative and selling points are full of unproven assumptions. If you're operating on gut feeling or anecdotal evidence, you're essentially flying blind.
Now, what if research could give you a crystal-clear lens into your market's psyche? Imagine not just meeting but anticipating your clients' needs, solving problems they didn't even know they had. Research isn't about confirming what you already know; it's about uncovering what you don't.
The market trends and buyer behaviors you might have identified a couple of years ago have probably changed by now. If you are not truly confident you know what’s going on in your target market, or can’t present a single original, data-backed insight to prospects… It may be the time to do some research.