Building a Diverse B2B Marketing Research Panel


Recently, one of our tech clients approached our strategy team with a problem: they wanted to make their business-to-business (B2B) marketing research panel more diverse, but didn’t know where to start. So this got us thinking: What does making a research panel more diverse really mean, and why does it matter? 

What is a marketing research panel? 

First things first: A marketing research panel consists of a voluntary survey of respondents who are willing to answer questions typically related to a company’s brand, marketing campaign, or new products. Marketing research panels help companies make crucial business decisions, including those related to product launches and brand campaigns. B2B marketing research panels focus specifically on the needs of B2B companies, such as identifying new features to add to an existing enterprise software product. 

Why diversify your marketing research panel?

Creating a diverse B2B marketing research panel isn’t about checking a box. It has a real, utilitarian purpose connected to achieving business goals. In B2B product development, diversity in panel members means incorporating critical feedback from a wide range of product users and decision makers who are representative of a product’s end users. For example, a B2B enterprise software tech company that specializes in customer relationship management (CRM) might want to include panel members who are marketers (not just salespeople) because, as one group of the software’s end users, marketers can ensure that the CRM software allows them to easily provide marketing materials to the sales team. 

Creating a diverse B2B marketing research panel isn’t about checking a box.
Expanding the definition of diverse

Enterprise tech panel diversity should, of course, incorporate appropriate racial and gender representation, but also technical knowledge, professional experience, and a handful of other criteria depending on the product. For example, an enterprise tech company that’s focused on its graphic design software might want to recruit more digital designers as market research panel members, in addition to operations engineers. That way, the company can get feedback from two groups using the same product in different ways. So, building an effective research panel will take some thought and analysis. After all, for an enterprise tech product integration to truly succeed, the technology needs buy-in from stakeholders across an entire organization. 

Building an effective research panel will take some thought and analysis.
How to find diverse panel members

Once you understand who you need on your B2B marketing research panel, how do you go about finding them? Below are a few suggestions to get you started:

  • Look at industries beyond tech. Enterprise software users are in every industry. By opening up the search to include a variety of industries, tech companies can identify research panel candidates with diverse backgrounds and experiences for product feedback. 
  • Get outside your comfort zone. Visit clients outside of your HQ to broaden the geographic diversity of panel members. Look for people with different experiences, backgrounds, and identities.
  • Partner with organizations and institutions that support minorities. The Society of Women Engineers, Techqueria (a nonprofit that serves the Latinx tech community), and historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are organizations that actively seek opportunities to connect their members and alumni with major tech companies. By partnering with organizations or institutions like these, companies can develop deeper connections with key stakeholders and a more diverse research panel database. Alternatively, product team members can join affiliated organizations or groups on LinkedIn, and ask their members to participate in a panel.

Developing a diverse B2B marketing research panel takes time, but the payoff is well worth it. A research panel representative of your end users can save time—and money—in the long run.

About Kate Erickson

Strategy Director Kate Erickson works with Firewood technology clients to identify new growth opportunities across each firm’s brand and product portfolio. Prior to joining Firewood, Kate was the associate director of marketplace and content insights at Condé Nast, where she conducted advertising sales research across their portfolio of brands, including Vogue, Vanity Fair, and The New Yorker. Kate holds a BA in economics from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from the NYU Stern School of Business.