Don’t Be Intimidated by Market Research

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Imagine that you’ve decided to invest in market research to gain a better sense of peoples’ problems, needs, buying patterns, and price sensitivity.  You obtain proposals from several research firms and experience disappointment and “sticker shock.”  One firm takes such a “macro” view, you feel like you will be lost in “analysis paralysis” for months on end.  You are convinced that if you go with them, you will end up with outdated information and run out of money.  A second firm seems overly impressed by their technology. It’s like a bad game of Jeopardy® where the question is always “internet surveys” no matter what the desired answer is.  A third firm seems too academic.  The desire to have statistical validity and reliability outweighs practicality.  All of the firms seem to skip right past your company’s existing capabilities.

If this happens to you, don’t be intimidated.

  • Write out what you know about each of your target markets.  You may be pleasantly surprised and reassured.  Plus, you shouldn’t have to pay any market research firm to redo what you have already done.  And you’ll need the information to orient the outside research firms.
  • List the questions you need answered. The sequence is important. You’ll want to know about the lives, priorities, problems, needs, and frustrations of prospective customers before addressing price sensitivity related to a specific product. Social workers use a great phrase “felt need.”  You need to gauge what people feel they need. In most target markets, folks feel they need more time.  With the added pressure of the changing economy, most folks feel they need more money (No DUH!). And folks also need things to be easier.  Increased stress levels shorten attention spans, make learning more difficult, and reduce tolerance levels.   If your product or service addresses a “felt need” then questions about preferred packaging, delivery, price, etc. are more relevant.
  • Then identify which questions you can answer on your own.  While the outside market research firms accuse you of having only “anecdotal information”, DON’T WAIT! KEEP GOING! Interact with your customers. Interview people.  Use social media. Run contests. Include response vehicles on your website. Do your own customer satisfaction surveys. Do a trial run or BETA test.
  • Objective (outside) market research is important when it augments improvements to your own research and analytical capabilities. Recently, I recommended that a small company establish its own department and hire an experienced professional to lead their “opportunity analysis” process.
About Aldonna Ambler:
Known as The Growth Strategist®, Aldonna Ambler built and grew a suite of companies to help midsized B2B companies achieve accelerated growth with sustained profitability® A Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), Ambler has addressed over 2000 audiences and hosted a syndicated online talk show about growth strategies for 9 years. As a growth financing intermediary, Ambler raised over $1 Bil dollars for midsized companies. The winner of over 2 dozen prestigious national and statewide "entrepreneur of the year" awards, Ambler is available to speak about “profitable growth during any economy” and/or serve on the board of a growth-oriented privately-held company.

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