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How to stand out and win pitches

Ron Sellers is the grey matter behind Grey Matter Research & Consulting. Ron has multiple decades of experience in the consumer insights field, working with brands ranging from Chevrolet to Disney to The Coca-Cola Company. Grey Matter’s research work has been covered by the international media, including Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Pravda, Fast Company, Associated Press and USA Today.

Hi Ron,

Hope you’re doing well!

I'm getting in touch to make sure your fieldwork and data collection needs are met. [Company name] works in a diverse range of industries and our specialities are: blah, blah, blah, blah.

Look familiar? I receive three or four of these emails a week from different field agencies, along with additional generic emails from list brokers, focus group facilities, translators, transcribers and a variety of other vendors.

You probably get them too. Their big sales message is generally, “We exist.” That’s it. We exist, and you can use us for your research/recruitment/list other needs. They do nothing at all to differentiate themselves from every other company that does the same work.

It’s not just generic emails – it’s everything. Advertising. Websites. Telemarketing. Direct mail. Take a good look at promotional messages you see from the consumer insights world. How many of them really say anything that sets their company apart from others providing similar services?

Worse, so many companies are so intent on appealing to everyone that they provide a laundry list of every service they offer or every industry they serve. In trying to appeal to everyone, they end up appealing to no one.

As silly as that seems, here’s the hard question: are you doing the same thing? Not necessarily sending generic emails, but marketing your services in a way that fails to differentiate your company from everyone else out there?

Without much thought, can you say in a sentence or two what makes you different? More importantly, does anything actually set you apart? And don’t fall back on generic claims such as “quality,” because everyone promises quality, service and expertise. To make an impact, you have to be more specific.

For example, there are many qualitative recruiters out there. I’ve always been interested in the subject of professional participants and how their conditioned responses can impact data quality and research results. Liveminds differentiates itself by sourcing participants through Behavioural Recruitment, using big data on what people have actually done, rather than what they say they’ve done, and explaining the benefits of that approach.

My company, Grey Matter Research, offers unmatched expertise in certain industry segments, and we promote the heck out of that. In quantitative research, we focus heavily on data quality, conducting research-on-research that shows how the vast majority of our competitors are not doing enough to provide viable, engaged, reliable, representative survey respondents (e.g. 6 Ways Your Survey Research May Be Misleading You and the forthcoming Still More Dirty Little Secrets of Online Panels). We communicate that message in white papers, blog posts, sales materials, direct marketing, social media, our website and every proposal. Are these differentiators meaningful? Sufficient? That’s a question for potential clients, but we have tried to promote very specific ways in which we differ from the competition.

What’s your difference?

Maybe it’s specific industry expertise. Maybe it’s a unique twist on a specific methodology. Maybe it’s pricing or speed of delivery or an explicit promise, such as “We have the most user-friendly online qual platform in the industry.”

Maybe it’s not even anything tangible, but a differentiated branding, marketing or positioning tactic: promoting your services with humour, owning a certain visual approach or consistently providing value-added services, such as white papers that position your company as a thought leader. After all, what real differentiation does “Just Do It” promise? Yet Nike’s strategy has separated their brand from its competitive set.

Your differentiator doesn’t have to make you unique from every other player in the insights world. But with so many undifferentiated companies out there offering largely the same product and service categories, anything that sets you apart from the competition will help you win business.

If you’d like to find out more about how Behavioural Recruitment finds engaged participants for online research get in touch.

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