Today, in memory of my father, who was a great marketing consultant himself, I reflect on the importance of market research in our digital landscape.
I grew up surrounded by talk of market research groups, new product launches, listening to consumers and even taking part in research groups when the products were aimed at children (testing Chocolate Eclairs anyone?). The 1980s saw a boom in own label vs. branded products and the swing towards consumer choice and influence, and with it came the importance of Market Research.
The way our human minds work, the psychology of behaviour is the core of marketing; understanding what your customers desire and how to present your product in a way that leads them to purchase with confidence.
The secret is to help people genuinely believe that your product, whether a service, software or physical product, is exactly what they have been looking for to answer their current top-of-mind need.
In this noisy world of incessant advertising, with videos shouting out and interrupting your day, it can be very hard to stay focused and true to yourself as the next shiny object is dangled in front of you promising the world. How do you know what and who to trust? How do you decide where to spend your money?
With the internet at our finger tips, and many who love to share their point of view, we have an endless source of reviews, comparison articles and product ratings to browse and convince us that Product A is better for us than Product B. Features differ slightly and can make the difference between a purchase and none.
You are probably nodding your head at this point, agreeing that you do research the things you purchase.
Now let’s turn this on the head, as you are also a business owner with a great idea for a product or service. What do you do?
- Get super excited, and share the idea with your friends and see what they think?
- Leave it floating around your head, not sure if others think it will be good too?
- Figure out on your own who would buy this, what the price would be, what features it needs, and then create a sales page (as you can) and publish a post about it once to see what reaction you get?
- Create an in-depth market research campaign, asking questions to possible customers as to what they need, and understanding the key factors that take them from research to purchase?
Most starter entrepreneurs, in my experience, are doing 1 or 3, but get frustrated as no-one buys their product. They have no marketing strategy
Innovators are often in group 2 - they create products in their head constantly, but don’t have any business strategy to get it out into the world, so it stays an idea.
Experienced entrepreneurs will move down into route 4, having wasted too much time in their initial years shooting from the hit with ideas and wondering why nothing sticks. So now they know the importance of Market Research.
Market Research is far easier to carry out today as a solopreneur than ever.
Back in the 1980s, you would need to buy lists of people in the demographic who could want your product then gather them together in meeting rooms with a trained market researcher to get honest feedback on the product.
Or you might have created a survey and printed and posted these to people to complete in return for an incentive... then on return, data inputters would be hired to gather the responses before you could analyse the results. (yep, that was one of my first jobs as a teenager working for Dad and I loved seeing the answers).
But at the end of this you would know if you were onto a “good thing” or of the idea was a no-go.... before you then headed in the direction of an advertising agency to work up paid ads on TV, in newspapers and magazine.
Then came the internet and digital software that sped up this process and opened direct access to our clients without the middlemen, no agencies required...
Fast forward to today, where we call all access free survey software that automatically charts the results for you. You can gather people together in groups while they are still sat in their homes using video conferencing software. You can poll your followers on Facebook with ease.
There are no excuses NOT to ask your audience what they think. But still very few business owners do this regularly.
Why is this I ask myself?
- Fear of reaching out and being turned away?
- Indecision on what to ask?
- Uncertainty on how to go about it?
Yet, as consumers we WANT to be listened to and WE want to know who we are buying from and how we can trust that what the seller is saying is accurate...
As the business owner, you can build the trust by showing up, being genuine, providing real value from a place of love. And being accessible, open to suggestions and asking for opinions.
So at this point it is only right I ask you... what do you feel is holding you back from reaching out to your customer base today?
A little more about my background...
My first love was art and design, and still is core in everything I place out into the world, but the way our human minds work, the psychology of behaviour has always been a close second. Third was the mechanics and strategy that needs to be set in place to grow a business. It is not by accident that I am an Online Business Strategist for Entrepreneurs - this has been my life study and now the focus of my online business training programs.