In our first B2B marketing step, I discussed how you start by defining what it is you’re trying to do. Once you’ve done that, the homework starts, and lots of it.

The second stage is research. You need to research your market throughly, since you can’t successfully market to it unless you understand it. If you’re taking a focussed approach and targeting a small number of large companies, then you’ll need to find out as much as you can about those specific companies. For now, we’ll confine ourselves to researching the market.

There are many dimensions to this. Here are some to think about:

– What is the industry? Can you define it? How does it operate?

– How many players are in it? How do they group or segment?

– How big is the market? Is it growing, flat-lining or shrinking?

– What legal or regulatory pressures are on the companies in this market?

– What power does this industry have and what pressures and margins is it subject to? Michael Porter’s famous Five Forces Model is a doozy for this.

– Is this a progressive or a traditional industry? What kind of things will it respond to?

– What are companies in this market trying to do? What are their drivers?

– What is stopping them getting there without your help? What are their challenges?

– Who are the typical buyers in these companies?

– What are the buyer ‘personas’? What kind of people are they? How do they like to become aware of stuff and research problems and alternative solutions?

– Do companies typically have budgets put aside for your kind of solution in this market? What other destinations for their budgets are you competing against?

– How do these companies usually make decisions on your stuff? Are they simple and quick or complex and drawn-out?

– What other job roles influence the decision?

– What’s the competitive situation for your solution in this market? Is it well established and saturated with competition, or emerging with few players to rival you?

Phew! Thats’s a long list, and not exhaustive, but the more detailed the picture of your market, the better your marketing in the subsequent steps. A word of caution: a lot of companies don’t bother doing this step…