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Web meeting platforms may sound like a dry topic to do research on, but it’s surprisingly emotionally evocative because the stakes are high. When it comes to hosting virtual meetings, the software chosen is paramount. The platform becomes a host’s virtual persona to meeting attendees, so when technical problems arise, it reflects poorly on the host. An embarrassed host may choose to abandon a virtual meeting provider if too many things go wrong.

Our client, a company offering online meeting, desktop sharing, and video conferencing services, needed a unique brand identity and creative campaign to rise above a crowded marketplace. 

The research team utilized two rounds of qualitative focus groups to build deep understanding of both the competitive landscape and the current and potential user base for our client’s products. This understanding of the decision-making process and of the unique advantages of our client’s tool enabled our client to create brand positioning statements. We then tested these statements with business consumers to further refine them to ensure the final platform was differentiated and motivating.

Problem

Our client, a major provider of virtual meeting tools, sought to develop an overall brand identity and creative campaign to help them stand out in a crowded, competitive marketplace. Specifically, they wanted to learn the best way to drive consideration, trial, and conversion with business decision makers who host online meetings.

To achieve this goal, our client first needed to understand the competitive landscape, including how consumers viewed competitor virtual meeting software providers (both free and paid). They also needed to uncover pain points and opportunity areas they could leverage when creating a unique brand position.

Second, they needed a deep dive on their current and potential business customers, including how these users decide which workplace tools to utilize and their propensity to switch products. Two segments—those who use the client’s free service and those who use the paid service—were of specific interest.  We needed to understand the benefits that drove users to our client’s platform – what did it offer that made it so compelling? 

This information would help our client design an overarching brand strategy to encompass both the free and paid versions of their meeting software.

Result

In the first round of research, the team discovered that the client’s software was positioned within users’ “sweet spot”: it was seen as professional enough for the most important meetings but wasn’t overly complicated or intimidating to use. 

Using a metaphor elicitation technique, we learned that the software tools evoked emotional responses from avid users, which indicated that the functionality of the virtual meeting tools elicits confidence and builds trust between the brand and the user. 

The free version was not well known by consumers; however, this presented an opportunity for our client. They could leverage the free version to build brand awareness. Smaller companies especially, such as start-ups and sole proprietorships, presented key opportunities. With positive experiences using the free version, these users may be more likely to switch to the paid version as their businesses grow.

The second round of research provided our client with feedback on several positioning statements. We identified key themes in these statements that respondents resonated with the most. Specifically, the concepts that best highlighted how our client’s virtual meeting tools help business users achieve these goals were rated most highly. Our client was able to use this feedback to optimize the positioning prior to launching their creative campaign.

Solution

Two rounds of qualitative focus groups with business decision makers who both host and attend online meetings were held in three markets. 

The first round provided a foundational understanding of the category and competitive landscape. We explored the context of using the platforms, elicited key drivers in the category., and identified the customer journey from free to paid products. Using projective techniques such as image and automotive metaphors, we uncovered how consumers view the major players in the category and the role our client’s brand plays in the space. From the unique benefits we identified, our client crafted multiple positioning statements.

The second round of focus groups provided feedback on these positioning statements. We focused on different types of users: those who use the client’s free and paid versions, as well as those who use competitors. These users rated the statements on how resonant and motivating they were using a mark-up tool. We again employed projective techniques – this time in the form of archetypes – to gain a baseline understanding the groups’ brand perceptions of our client. This allowed us to understand the impact of the new positionings on the brand’s image.  Ultimately, we identified key themes across the statements that connected with the users, fit with the brand, and were differentiating and motivating. 

Each round, ten focus groups were conducted in two markets (five groups per market). Each group contained six respondents, allowing us to speak with 120 unique business decision makers. The groups were divided to capture our client’s different potential consumer bases, including current paid users, current free users, competitive users, and those who attended online meetings but did not host them. 

Groups contained business decision makers from a range of industries and from a mix of small businesses (1-99 employees) and medium-sized organizations (100-499 employees). All respondents conducted business over conference calls using screen sharing software and had the power to choose which virtual meeting tool their business uses. 

The majority of the groups were with meeting organizers (i.e., those who had hosted at least one virtual meeting within the three months prior to the study). One group per market was held with meeting attendees (those who had attended at least four virtual meetings in the three months prior to the study).