This common question I come back to with folks is: “How well do you really know your customers and target market?”
Your knee jerk reaction is probably, “Pretty well.”
But, my question to you is, “Is that really true?”
Let’s talk about market research and customer orientation this morning:
Tom Elmer, a marketing professor in Pennsylvania, sent me a Peter Ducker quote the other day, the gist is that marketing is everything and customer orientation is the business looked at from the outside from the perspective of the customer.
For our purposes, I want you to think about customer orientation as the way that the voice of the customer gets into the business.
In my brand management class, I teach it as thinking of yourself as a pointillist painter, adding dots, dashes, and dabbles of colors that might not make any sense for a long time.
Until they do and the picture is clear.
That’s what market research is…
A conversation between you and your market.
This is important because we can think we know everything we need to know about our customers and the market from one point of view or conversation, but the truth is more complex.
At the end of 2022, I wrote a lengthy piece on how research leads to opportunities for your business.
This came as a result of an 18 month period where I did some market research with some of the great brands in the world of sports to help understand the world as it was in 2021-2022 when people could go to games after COVID.
The lessons I learned are important for those people, but can also teach you and me about how to deal with understanding our markets and looking for opportunities:
- The depth of your research matters, but random stuff is important as well. You need both.
- Your assumptions will kill you. As I teach in my workshops and classes, “you are not your customer.”
- Most of us don’t know who our real competitors are. In fact, we make assumptions about the competition that are often completely wrong. The biggest competitor, the status quo.
- Rigorous, consistent research will help you keep a finger on the pulse of the market because it is always changing.
How do you achieve this?
- Start small with individual conversations, little observations.
- Use secondary research. Google is a great friend. I use Duck Duck Go…but put the things you are trying to figure out into the search bar and see where others have already done research.
- Build off up a hypothesis. What question are you looking to answer?
- As a last step, go big with surveys and such.
The big key: listen.
Where we lose sight of our customers and their desires is due to our desire to jump to solutions before we have fully understood the question.
You have to give your market a chance to talk to you…
Listen, there are opportunities.
Join me in the WCG Slack Channel and talk about your market research.
P.S. You have made it this far, share this note with a colleague and help me spread the word about the importance of marketing research.
Also, here are a few good podcasts I’ve done on the topic:
- Paul Bailey talks brand strategy, but that starts with research.
- Amanda Lester talks research with an eye on research, but research in the arts as well. She has her feet in two places at once.
- 7.5 minutes with me.