The biggest problem with online panel business is the entry barrier is too low – with just a laptop and a false claim that “we have 2 million panels in 24 countries (build in few months!)” any tom, dick and harry can start an online panel company. But this strategy doesn’t work for too long – as seen in the past 5 years so many people started online panel companies have shut their shops and are now looking for a job. Even for genuine online panel companies who may have some panel base the problem is ‘how to get business?’ – and rightly so – with big companies like Toluna, Research Now, Lightspeed or SSI – why will a client take risk with you? But then again the problem is the short-sighted mentality of online panel companies – as they falsely believe that somehow ‘by magic’ they will get business.
Today I am going to share with you 5 reasons why old sales strategies won’t work for you and how only content marketing is the real solution for you.
Reason 1: conferences are a waste of money
I know some of you will get offended by this headline – especially those who organize conferences! But first hear me out – if you attend conferences to attain knowledge then you must attend one – but do online panel companies participate in conferences to get enriched with insights? Of course not!
Of all the conferences I have attended – I only see sales persons of the online panel companies distributing business cards and pleading for business – but guess what – this strategy doesn’t works at all – as potential clients have become smarter and have started avoiding sales people. Therefore online panel companies are facing problem to justify their ROI on conferences.
The inherent problem is the COST – just read closely what I have to explain:
A conference participation may cost you USD 5,000 – USD 20,000+ depending on the level of participation – which includes cost factors like sponsorship, number of team members, logistics etc. now attending just 1 conference will not help you make your presence felt – you need to attend at least 6-7 conferences in a year – which will cost you USD 30,000 – USD 120,000+ – but even then also there is no guarantee that you will get business.
Now the outcome which online panel companies seek from a conference is VISIBILITY – but spending that much amount is blasphemous!
Instead investing a much lower amount on content marketing can give you visibility and perception of subject matter expertise throughout the year. If you paste insightful articles thrice a week – it means throughout the week/month/year you are VISIBLE to potential clients – plus content marketing is completely non-intrusive in nature unlike shoving a business card on the face of a prospective client.
But then most of the people reading this article will think – huh! Our old strategy has worked for so long – and I will just say – update your resume as you will close shop soon!
Reason 2: spamming LinkedIn is not going to help
The creators of LinkedIn may have never imagined in their wildest dreams that their platform will be misused rampantly in order to get business. But online panel companies in desperation to get business are spamming LinkedIn with sales messages.
Just look at your LinkedIn feed and you will find an online panel company putting up spam messages like “Do you need online panels in Timbuktu – we have 1 million panels there”. The irony of such messages is that you intend to get business but on the contrary a client can see through such false claims and will not give you business.
Please understand that clients are smarter than what you think they are – so such spam messages are only going to ruin your reputation in the market.
Instead if you write insightful articles that can really help clients it will be more effective in creating a good perception about your online panel company – that is why I always insist on having a content marketing strategy and not sales messages for LinkedIn.
But then most of the people reading this article will think – huh! Content can give business? It is not possible – and I will just say – if cola sellers like Coca Cola are leveraging content marketing – why are you as a researcher not doing it?
Reason 3: cold calling and intro emails don’t work at all
This story gets repeated every time a new online panel company gets launched by ‘don’t have a job so let me become an entrepreneur’ businessman. A list of potential client is created and then a standard intro email is send across to all of them.
The result is as obvious – you don’t get a reply on any of the intro emails – but you don’t lose hope after all you are an entrepreneur – so you send reminder emails again and again – till the time you realize – “Holy cow! I should not have left my job to launch an online panel company” – but I guess it is too late for you to realize it now.
Then desperation to get business creeps in – so you now create a list of potential clients with their contact numbers and start cold calling them – the result again is obvious – you don’t get any business at all.
The reason why cold calling and intro emails don’t work at all is simple – it is a saturated market with too many online panel companies offering services. For a client you are just a noise in the crowd – why will they give you business – they have too many options to choose from.
Instead if you have leveraged content marketing and created a trust with potential clients it would have been much easier to gain access and sales opportunities.
You see when you write engaging content a potential client is ‘pulled’ towards your brand and it becomes way easier to get business.
But then most of the people reading this article will think – huh! I better stick to cold calling and emailing – as I have heard that they work! – and I will just say – you should not have left that job.
Reason 4: cutting costs won’t help you either
When you don’t get business what is the first thing you do – simple – cut costs!
But what if you still don’t get business – simple – cut costs again!!
However the problem here is again – simple – if you cut costs so will others – and a time will come that no more you can cut costs – so the only thing is left is to compromise on quality – which again means that you are going to lose business at a lightning speed – as clients will always asks for lower price but will never compromise on lower quality.
Here instead of cutting costs it is better to have an effective content marketing strategy in place which will help you get premium price for the value you are providing.
But then most of the people reading this article will think – huh! I better stick to cutting costs – as I have heard that it works! – and I will just say – say hello to loses!
Reason 5: begging is for beggars and not researchers
It’s such a shame that today people who are running online panel business have literally resorted to begging to get business – they are willing to go to any extreme to get business and will literally ‘push’ the clients for business which is not a sound strategy.
Always remember that begging may evoke empathy but it doesn’t helps you succeed – or else beggars would have been the most successful people in this world.
It also surprises me that researchers who are supposed to derive meaningful insights from data are unable to create useful information (read content) for their clients and instead are resorting to pressure tactics.
If you are running an online panel company I am sure these points will resonate with you for sure – but then again you can chose to ignore your inner voice and stick to age old methods – which are not going to give you results.
However if you want to leverage content marketing here are 6 points why it is useful:
- It is non-intrusive in nature.
- It helps create positive brand imagery for your company
- It is cost effective.
- It is long term strategy and hence will make your business sustainable.
- It creates a perception that you are a subject matter expert.
- It ‘pulls’ clients towards your brand and therefore helps get you more business
The choice is entirely yours now!
If you want to know (free of cost) as to how content marketing can help your online panel company get more visibility and more business then shoot me an email at email@example.com (maybe this conversation will help you succeed).