Case Study



When creating and distributing marketing communications tools such as brochures, it is important to keep in mind the needs and wants of your target audience, including what types of messages and images would most resonate and attract them to your brand. However, what happens if you serve a large number of customers in a wide variety of industries? How can you determine what aspects of your marketing messages will resonate most with different customer segments?

Our client, a utilities company, had created several marketing brochures targeted toward business owners in their footprint. They were interested to know what messages in these brochures most resonated with customers (and potential customers), including any differences across industries. 

To help them answer this question, C+R conducted an online survey with conjoint exercises to assess small and medium-sized business (SMB) owners’ attitudes towards the brochures’ headlines, sub-headlines, and images. As a result of the study, our client came away with a greater understanding of what messages to use to appeal to various business audiences.


Our client, a regional utilities company, had created several marketing brochures targeted toward small- and medium-sized business owners who operated in their footprint. The client wanted to understand what impact, if any, these brochures were having on their intended audiences. Specifically, they wanted to know what combination of headlines, sub-headlines, and images most resonated with business owners — and if attitudes were different across industries.


To gather feedback on our client’s messaging, we deployed an online survey with owners of small-to-medium-sized businesses. 

In total, 298 respondents completed the survey. All were primary or shared decision-makers for any heating and cooling equipment bought for the business. The businesses represented a variety of industries, including professional services, retail, restaurant and foodservice, warehousing, healthcare, and personal services.

The businesses employed between 2-100 employees, were run from a dedicated location (i.e., not a home office), and had been at that location for at least a year (with plans to remain at least one further year). All businesses were located within our client’s footprint, and the owners were our client’s customers. 

The respondents read and reacted to several of our client’s marketing messages via the survey. They evaluated potential headlines, sub-headlines, and images. Potential messages were compared using a Conjoint exercise. Each respondent evaluated a subset of 80 combinations based on a random selection in a conjoint research design.

The result

Our client learned which aspects of their messaging resonated most with small and medium business owners, including common themes the top-performing communications shared and which combinations were most preferred. For example, they learned which images used in the brochures were more and less relatable to specific target audiences (e.g., based on the sector the business operated in). The findings were used to develop new marketing collateral that included the most compelling messaging and imagery to SMB owners. 


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