federal market research

Aaron Heffron, President, Market Connections

Aaron Heffron, President, Market Connections

From the Desk of Aaron Heffron, President, Market Connections, Inc.

In a recent The Curious Task podcast, Dr. Sandra Peart, Dean and E. Claiborne Robins Distinguished Professor at the Jepson School of Leadership Studies at the University of Richmond (Go Spiders!) discussed the life and philosophy of John Stuart Mill. As an economics nerd myself, I found the discussion fascinating as she and host, Alex Aragona, detailed the key principles on which Mill wrote. A review of issues around liberty and utilitarian decision-making abounded. But what I was particularly taken with was Mill’s concept of how you can determine whether one choice is better than another. Enter the “competent judges.”

As marketers, our job is to help make the decision easier for our customers. We spend countless hours and dollars making the case as to why our company’s products or services are a better choice. When faced with two options, we want them to choose us every time.

Market Connections partners with our clients to help identify those in their target market who are more likely to lean one way or another, understand the elements of the product or service that are important to them, and the perceptions and experience they have with various companies. We conduct surveys, run focus groups, and conduct in-depth interviews all in an attempt to mine those hidden diamonds of the decision-making process that will make their product or service more appealing.

While hearing from just your customers or prospects is great, the opinions we value most are what Mill termed the “competent judges,” those who have direct experience with both options available to them. By bringing together those individuals with direct experience, you as a marketer can hear straight from the horse’s mouth as to what worked and what didn’t. You are not relying on perceptions, assumptions, or hearsay; but rather, you are measuring the room, so to speak, and getting a clear view of where your brand stands.

While not always easy to find, these judges are a key gateway to a path forward for you and your sales team. To support these efforts, Market Connections has spent the last decade building a panel of thousands of public sector influencers and decision-makers that we reach out to on a regular basis. Working across civilian and defense agencies, these individuals have had exposure to scores of contractors, vendors, and products. We have been leveraging these “competent judges” for insights for years, creating studies and reports that support your efforts and strategies.

Contact me if you want to discuss leveraging our “competent judges” for your specific market needs.


Christie Cox

Christie Cox, Marketing Director, Unisys Federal

After completing two recent studies with Market Connections, we reached out Christie Cox, Marketing Director at Unisys Federal to understand how this research is supporting their marketing and sales strategies. Unisys’s offerings include security software and services; digital transformation and workplace services; industry applications and services; and innovative software operating environments for high-intensity enterprise computing. Unisys has always understood that the federal market has unique challenges and needs; from budgetary restrictions to constantly changing federal mandates and requirements; and has been a long time consumer of research in the industry.

MC: Can you give us a little background as to why you conducted this research and how you are leveraging your results?

Christie: Market-relevant research of our targeted government audience is invaluable to help us understand our client’s pain points so we can drive solutions to better support their missions. We leveraged the results [from a recent research study] for a very successful live event for the industry that resulted in meeting potential clients, gaining thought leadership media placements; and we continue using the data as ongoing messaging points for why we design our solutions plans.

MC: We understand you see the value in research, as you are conducting additional studies this year. Can you share any ROI you have seen or expect to see from the studies you have already conducted and share why it’s important for you to continue to do studies?

Christie: We plan to conduct another major research-based campaign in 2018 around technology’s influence with automation on the federal changes in their workforce. We feel it is very important to take a pulse of the audience to best understand how Unisys can meet their needs. The marketing and PR ROI is, as usual, difficult to measure, but we highly value the opportunity to lead industry discussions from our previous research in digital government,  IT modernization, and biometrics-based identity intelligence. The market research we employed Market Connections to conduct for us has led Unisys to be a first and early thought leader in the industry and provided value that is unmeasurable for positioning for future deals.

MC: What advice would you give a marketing director who wants to do a research project?

Christie: Pay close attention to your design of the research survey questions because they are critical to the end results you will see and what gets measured. Make sure you ask all of the right questions, and Market Connections can help you achieve that.

Market Connections would like to thank Christie for taking time to share insights on how Unisys Federal is using the research provided to further their work in the federal market.

See results from Unisys Federal’s recent studies:

ANNOUNCED ON MAY 1, 2018: Unisys’s Modernization Revolution Marketing Campaign won the American Business Awards’ Stevie Bronze Award in the Government/Institutional/Recruitment category.  See all the winners: https://stevieawards.com/aba/2018-marketing-award-winners

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