#201: How to Capitalize on the ‘Original Research’ Trend in Content Marketing

Today, we’re touching on an idea that could boost your income significantly.

It could also position you as a higher-value professional in the eyes of clients and prospects.

Plus, it can be a lot of fun.

The idea is to conduct original research for your clients … and then publish content based on that research.

My guest, Sarah Greesonbach, has been performing original research for clients for  some time now.

Not only does she find it interesting and fun, she’s also used it to drum up a lot of work.

In this episode, she explains what original research is, what clients can do with it, and how you can pitch it as a service.

She also describes how you can use this service to grow your business — even if you’re not a research expert.

You’ll find the audio and detailed show notes here:

The notes that follow are a very basic, unedited summary of the show. There’s a lot more detail in the audio version. You can listen to the show using the audio player below. Or you can subscribe in iTunes to get this show delivered straight to the Podcasts app on your smart phone, tablet or iPod.

Tell us about yourself

Sarah’s company is B2B Content Studio. She’s writes white papers, articles and webinars for HR marketing and technology companies.

You’ve written about conducting original research and using it as a source of marketing content. Tell us more about that

The basic steps for conducting original research are:

  1. Develop a survey
  2. Poll an audience
  3. Write about the results.

You don’t have to have a scientific background to do this. Sarah fell into it when a client asked her to do it.

Original research benefits clients because it’s a “new” way to create editorial and thought leadership content.

B2B customers use research to help make decisions, and brands that can create some of this original research themselves for their clients.

We’re all suffering from content saturation, making it hard to compete. Original research helps you cut through the noise within your ecosystem of competitors.

Where have you seen this approach used well?

Andy Crestodina, 2019 Annual Blogging Survey

Content Marketing Institute, 2019 B2B Content Marketing Research

Michael Stelzner, 2019 Social Media Marketing Industry Report

This original research was obtained by surveying their own audience. You could turn every data point in these reports into an article, infographic or webinar.

Original research is a great way for your clients to generate traffic and interest. It can also serve as a source for multiple pieces of content.

What if your client doesn’t have much of an audience?

If you don’t have your own audience that you can survey, you can use Survey Monkey Audience. They connect you to the demographics you want for a fee.

Other options are Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook advertisements.

How proficient do you need to be in research methodologies to do this?

You may already have some of these skills. You can probably create a good survey if you use the same standards and logic that you apply to technical white paper writing.

You can probably create a good survey if you use the same standards and logic that you apply to technical white paper writing.

You can also review resources on writing good test questions.

Michelle Linn and Clare McDermott of Manis Research are great resources.

The Content Marketing Institute also has great content in their archives.

How do you pitch original research to clients?

Original research works best as an upsell or add on.

If you’re talking about a white paper, for example, you can point out competitors that are doing research or note if there are few studies on the topics your client is most interested in.

It can also help to create a project roadmap for the research and put it into a simple visual. This helps them know what to expect and what they’ll get out of it.

You can include this visual in your project proposal.

You can also suggest the many ways that they could use the research data.

How much can writers charge for this service?

Some writers charge about $1000 for the survey.

Polling the audience costs about $1000 for 100 responses.

Sarah typically charges $7,000-10,000 for a bundle that includes a survey, white paper and webinar. As she gets more experience, she can see increasing it to $15,000.

Offering this type of service is a great fit for warm email prospecting. It’s a great way to standout, especially if you customize your email and explain why original research would be helpful for their work.

You could potentially build a whole business around this service by offering it in different flavors. You don’t need many of these projects to generate a good income.

What are some mistakes writers can avoid when offering this service?

  1. Take the lead. Your clients will want to ask their customers what they like most about their product. But those are vanity metrics. Stick to questions that will deliver information that’s actually useful.
  2. Proof and proof again. You don’t want to send out a $1000 survey that has a duplicate question on it.
  3. Map out how you will use the information. As you map out your questions, also map out how you might use the responses. This will help you cut out unnecessary questions and reduce your costs. (You pay per question and per response.)

Where can listeners learn more about you?

Sarah has been busy building the B2B Writing Institute. She will be offering a course on original research along with other experts in the field.

The B2B Writing Institute



Plus … whenever you’re ready, here are 4 ways I can help you grow your freelance business:

1.  Grab a free copy of my book for ESTABLISHED writers/copywriters.

You’ll discover how to quickly and predictably reawaken dead leads, generate new client opportunities and convert not-yet-ready prospects into freelance writing clients. — Click Here

2.  Download a free copy of my new book for writers who are NEW to freelancing.

I’ll show you the 3 things you need to do to get your business off the ground safely and land your first paying client faster.  — Click Here

3.  Join my implementation program and be a case study.

I’m putting together a new implementation group this month. If you’d like to work with me to grow your income quickly with better clients (and become one of my new success stories). Just email me at [email protected] and put “Case Study” in the subject line.

4.  Work with me privately.

If you’re a 6-figure writer who’s trying to earn more in less time, with less stress, I might be able to help you get there faster than you think. Email me at [email protected] … put “Breakthrough” in the subject line and I’ll get back to you with more details