Market research is a wonderful tool for generating valuable thought leadership content. Not only does it reveal important information about attitudes and perceptions of emerging trends, federal decision makers trust it — data from the Federal Content Marketing Review shows that 69 percent of federal decision-makers find research reports to be the most valuable content.
Brocade — a leader in helping federal agencies modernize their network infrastructure — has believed in the value of research for years, using it to educate its customers about important topics and trends. This year, Brocade, in conjunction with Market Connections, conducted studies to learn about federal agencies’ perceptions of two important trends: network security and the New IP.
In both cases the results revealed important gaps between repondents’ knowledge of risks and their agencies’ actions in addressing those risks. Brocade has been able to leverage this research to discuss these issues with a range of audiences.
FedPulse had the opportunity to speak with Ginger Kessler, federal marketing director, about how Brocade is using the research.
FedPulse: Why do you incorporate research into your marketing plans?
Ginger: Brocade has been doing research for a long time, but I had never done it before taking this position. I came in the middle of a project and quickly saw the benefit. Research provides relevant, useful information about current topics and trends, and that helps us position how we discuss our solutions. It helps us frame the discussion in a way that is about the customers’ real needs rather than just about the Brocade solutions.
I also saw how our public relations agency, Sage Communications, was able to gain more press coverage for Brocade when we incorporated the research results into the press pitches.
FedPulse: Tell us more about how the research helps position Brocade.
Ginger: Our sales people are experts in network solutions and how they can help our federal customers, cut costs, and the research data back up their message — it legitimizes what they are saying and provides instant credibility. After all, it’s not just Brocade saying the network infrastructure is at risk and needs to be modernized; the federal government is saying it too.
For example, our Network Security subject matter expert, Judson Walker, has incorporated data points from the research into every presentation he gives and sales calls he makes. The data had revealed that agency networks were not as secure as respondents thought, and that data gives him the opportunity to have discussions he may not have been able to have without it. It has been a fantastic asset for him, and significantly deepened the level of conversation he has with customers and prospects.
Anthony Robbins, VP, Brocade Federal, is also using the data in his presentations and speeches. For high-level executives who frequently speak at industry events, research has an impact on the message.
FedPulse: What are some of the ways you’ve used the results?
Ginger: The white papers that have complemented the research results have been great. They not only provide a good piece of content, but thinking through the main points we want to cover and how we add value is a useful exercise and helps give our team more clarity around our message.
We’ve developed webinars around the research too, and that has been a good way to reach new people and educate them on the topic, the research results and “why Brocade.”
The research also provides tidbits that are perfect for social media — we can release specific data points and the infographics in small bites over time. This keeps our message fresh in our audience’s minds.
We host a Federal Forum every year, and this year we released the New IP Research study results at the event. It was wonderful to have a study to release because it provided a good press angle and we received great coverage.
FedPulse: What have you learned about using research?
Ginger: Before participating in research studies, I never realized research was so important to the press. But it makes sense: Research on emerging trends is newsworthy. The research has helped us to achieve between 32 and 44 percent share of voice every quarter, even though we have only single-digit market share. That is huge.
FedPulse: What advice would you give a marketing director who wants to do a research project?
Ginger: To get meaningful results, the questions need to be well thought out. And to do that, I have learned, you must have your subject matter experts — both from the sales side and the technical side — involved in writing the questions. And of course you need the experience of a research firm like Market Connections to guide you in the survey design. It is critical to have different perspectives and to make sure you are asking the right questions to get good results.
FedPulse would like to thank Ginger for taking the time to speak with us. To learn more about the Brocade research, follow these links:
- Is Data as Safe as Agencies Think It Is?
- Are Agencies Ready To Adopt the New IP?
- Federal Network Security webinar