I never liked doing research papers in school. I don’t know many kids who did.
Especially when we had to use actual books — ya know — from the library. And cite all of our sources on notecards. *All the Gen Zs stare blankly.*
Okay, I think I’ve aged myself enough.
My point is, research for school or work was never really my thing. I’m more of a doer. But when we figured out a low-lift method for doing original research and monetizing the results, I decided to go all-in.
Don’t have a podcast? Maybe this will inspire you to start one.
Already have a podcast? Start using this method to collect qualitative data from your podcast guests:
Determine 10 questions you want to ask your ideal buyers (aka, your podcast guests).
Record your questions and your guests’ answers apart from the actual interview.
Collect 100 responses to each question.
Choose 5-7 of your original 10 questions to report on.
Create a quarterly report with the data presented visually.
Original research by media companies isn’t anything new. The way we’re doing it, however, is.
How it’s been done
Organizations like Gartner and Edison Research produce valuable quantitative insights on a yearly basis. They likely send out multiple-choice surveys in order to collect loads of numbers.
Those numbers are represented in annual reports via graphs and pie charts and the like. The compiler of that data, then, can charge people for access to it.
How we’re doing it
We don’t want to reinvent the wheel here. I’m haunted enough by the research I had to do in high school.
So, we’re leveraging a platform we’ve all but mastered: our flagship podcast, B2B Growth.
“If you’re already doing a podcast, it’s a missed opportunity not to build out some infrastructure that allows you to do original research.”
Essentially, we’re collecting qualitative answers from our podcast guests by asking them all the same 10 questions. Then, we’re compiling 60 days worth of those answers into quarterly reports that we hope to monetize.
Doing original research this way means…
It’s free for us to collect the data
There’s not much risk
There’s not a lot of extra work our team has to do
We already have the platform set to ask the questions
Why original research is valuable
Doing original research — otherwise known as primary research — has four major advantages for podcasters like us.
1. It diversifies your revenue stream
In case you didn’t already know, service businesses like Sweet Fish have pretty limited margins. Representing our biggest expense are the amazing Sweeties that we like to pay on time.
People are always going to be your biggest expense.
So, what if you could make something that brings in revenue and doesn’t need to be paid a salary? That would be, like, incredible right?
Presenting, original research reports! (We’re calling our quarterly report The B2B Growth Report, btw.)
2. It’s great top-of-funnel content
Say you’re not planning to monetize your original research — that’s fine too!
It still makes killer ToFu content that will catch the eyes of your potential customers. And, of course, your team will be able to learn from the answers you collect.
3. It’s repurposable
Use the qualitative data you compile to make your copy *pop.* Insights can be repurposed into…
LinkedIn status updates
Social media graphics
As you repurpose your findings into other pieces of content, you can keep the majority behind a paywall if you choose the monetization route.
4. It supports thought leadership
The business student doing a research project. The content marketer looking for stats to include in her blog. The VP of Marketing searching for the latest industry trends.
You can reach all of these people and more by publishing original research.
By adding valuable insights to your market, you’re establishing yourself as a thought leader. You are literally influencing people with the data you collect and distribute.
“I think every company — whether you’re in SaaS, manufacturing, or whatever — needs to be thinking of themselves as a media company first.”
People will start to recognize your name, just as they know Edison Research or Gartner.
The podcaster’s original research method
Now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for…
*How* to actually create original research using your podcast.
1. Determine 10 questions you want to ask
Start a list of questions you’d like to ask your ideal buyer (aka, your podcast guest if you’re into Content-Based Networking.)
Those questions could be…
What’s the social media platform you spend most of your time on?
What makes a compelling cold email headline?
What do you search for when you’re looking for marketing trends?
What’s one way your team has successfully repurposed content?
About how many podcasts are you subscribed to?
What’s your favorite way to consume industry-focused content?
What’s your least favorite industry buzzword?
The reason we don’t send out surveys with multiple-choice questions is that we don’t want to shoehorn our guests into an answer. We want honest responses that run the whole gamut.
Once you have a master list of questions, whittle it down to 10 you can ask your guests in rapid-fire fashion.
2. Record your guests’ answers
Whether you decide to ask your 10 questions in the pre-interview or post-interview, make it separate from the actual interview.
This way, your team will easily be able to extract the qualitative data from the recording without having to listen to the entire episode. To make it even easier, make the original research segment a different recording from the interview.
B2B Growth is a daily show, so we do a ton of interviews. With multiple hosts, it’s easy for us to do 100 interviews in 60 days.
That’s just us, though. It might take you a little longer to compile 100 responses for each of your 10 questions. We chose 100 responses because it’s a decent sample size for qualitative research.
4. Choose 5-7 questions to report on
If you choose to create an original research report, we recommend focusing on 5-7 of your original 10 questions. The more specific you can get with your reporting, the more helpful it will be to your audience.
Plus, you might not be able to pull any helpful insights from some of your questions (and insights are the key to effective original research).
5. Present your findings visually
Any good researcher knows that people comprehend data better in visual form.
Although you’re collecting qualitative data, you’ve taken from a large enough sample size to warrant graphs and charts.
It’s important to note that since you’re not using multiple-choice, your team will need to categorize responses in a different way. For example, say you ask…
“What’s your favorite way to consume industry-focused content?”
You receive answers varying from LinkedIn to daily newsletters to Joe from sales. Take those answers and categorize them under Social Media, Email, and Peer Insights.
Maybe a large percentage of people said they consume industry content on LinkedIn; make LinkedIn its own category.
Original research is your friend
The podcaster’s original research method might look a little intimidating right now. Trust me, all you need to do is start asking your podcast guests questions you’d like to know the answers to.
Start with this one: If you could ask 100 of your peers one question, what would it be?
(Oh, and make sure you’re recording. 😉)
Seriously, it’s that easy. Take it from a kid who used to despise research.