Market Research: A Business Owners Best Friend
Marketing without data is like driving with your eyes closed.
– Dan Zarrella
Market research is a tool that is overlooked by most businesses.
Sure, everyone feels they have done a sufficient job analyzing their market. But have we honestly dug deep enough to uncover some of the hidden wisdom that can be discovered by market research?
Well, when I was starting my entrepreneurial journey over 12 years ago, I came across some advice that I didn’t quite understand until a few years later.
I was in Los Angeles working on a denim brand, and I would frequently go to a gym near Manhattan Beach during my stay. Looking back, I was just a kid, and I would always find myself chatting with people, learning about what brought them out to California.
One night, I was leaving the gym, and this older professional looking man I was near point blank asked me. What are you doing in life? As an eager young man, I was quick and proud to announce that I was building a clothing company. He proceeded to ask me about the products, and my idea for the company.
Then he asked, how much time I invested in market research? I told him that I feel I have done a fair amount, I was an avid shopper, I paid attention to the brands that were out there, the styles, what my friends were buying and what publications were writing about, etc.
My answer did not appear to satisfy his request because he told me to stop what I was doing and go back and invest more time in my market research. He mentioned to me that this was the single most crucial aspect of building a business.
I’m here to tell you that I didn’t immediately stop what I was doing and go back to the market research phase of building my brand. I moved forward and achieved some level of success for a young entrepreneur. The experience ultimately led me to where I am at in life now, which I am grateful.
This conversation lingered in my mind occasionally, until it finally clicked.
I might think I know what my customer wants, based on what I observe, but there are so many underlying factors that affect purchasing decisions, that I needed to dig deeper and ask more questions to build a foundation for building my products. Otherwise, everything I did would be a lot of effort and risk missing the mark.
I would like to share the three critical insights that I gained as it relates to market research, and if you are willing to invest some time in uncovering these truths behind your customers and market, you will hopefully remember me, like I remember the gentleman who shared his thoughts with me.
MARKET RESEARCH: TARGET POTENTIAL CLIENTS/CUSTOMERS
As I mentioned above, people have many hidden motives for purchasing products. They will often tell their friends logical reasons for buying an iPhone or Google Pixel 2. The camera has this feature; the screen is this size, etc. Generally, there are some hidden emotions that they are not as quick to reveal unless they are pushed a little more. Things like, I am confused easily and want something that is simple, or I want to be different and unique because I am a contrarian.
The emotions driving purchasing decisions are not to be discounted. Emotion is what turns wants into needs.
Based on your businesses products, services you should identify a customer persona and reach out to a few people who match these criteria and dig a little deeper than the surface to find out what really makes them tick.
You might be surprised that your customer is not who you thought they were, or you haven’t approached your sales strategy appropriately.
MARKET RESEARCH: UNDERSTAND THE BUYING BEHAVIOR OF EXISITING CUSTOMERS
There is a saying, “your best customer is the one you already have. ” There are at least two great meanings behind this in my opinion.
First, we can ask our customers what they think about our products and services. The obvious one might be, “What made you decide to pull the trigger and purchase our product?”
Another thing that is great about existing customers is you have a platform to help them in different ways. If you’ve taken the time to nurture good relationships and deliver value to them, Then asking questions about why they buy from you, followed by what else they want or need that can relate to your other products or services is a great way to bridge another gap.
Are you starting to see how market research can benefit your company in the short term?
MARKET RESEARCH: UNCOVER NEW & EFFECTIVE BUSINESS STRATEGIES
As you embark on your journey of discovering new wisdom about your customers and your market, you may hear or see some things that come up on a regular basis.
Maybe it’s a behavior these specific individuals possess that is an opportunity for you to build out a new strategy in your business?
Often companies walk away with fantastic content they can leverage in their marketing campaigns, blog articles, email marketing efforts and many other forms of marketing.
You may even find that customers are willing to pay more for your products if it fills a particular role in their lives, or there is an opportunity to bundle your product with another to maximize the LTV of your customer.
Getting down and dirty in the trenches of market research will unearth many significant discoveries and insights from your customers and the market you are trying to penetrate.
After I learned all this for myself, I completely understood why the friendly stranger who asked me about market research was so adamant about doing it thoroughly.