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Surveys can also be expensive. Although the prices have come down over the years, you will still need to spend tens of thousands of dollars to get a good survey done. | Source: Freepik
Surveys can also be expensive. Although the prices have come down over the years, you will still need to spend tens of thousands of dollars to get a good survey done. | Source: Freepik

Deepen your understanding of your target market

How well do you know your customers? DAVE WAKEMAN reveals effective strategies for learning more about your target market.

I try to make two major points in every customer engagement: You must be able to define success and remember that you are not the customer. This second idea tends to confuse people.

We all feel that we know what our customers want and what they should consider when they buy from us. 

However, this is a bad idea because people don’t act how we want them to, and our assumptions are probably costing us sales.  

This makes the ability to ‘hear’ your customers necessary. There are four ways to get to know our customers better. 

The ‘Quick Question’ is a way to get one-to-one feedback from your market.

The beauty of this is that you can use this question anywhere: in the store with a customer or prospect, around town when you shop, or in any setting where curiosity spurs an idea. 

The key to success isn’t to think of these small asks as the solution to all your customer knowledge but as a step toward insight. 

I describe this approach as the foundation of a hypothesis about customer wants, market needs, and products that you are developing. 

The ‘Social Butterfly’ is my take on focus groups. Focus groups are familiar, and they are also contrived. 

You must work hard to ensure you get the maximum benefit from focus groups because you find that people will tell you what they think you want to hear. 

They’ll be performative because they know they are being observed or may not be forthcoming. It is tough to know, and that’s where the idea of the Social Butterfly came from. 

It’s a recognition that you can learn a great deal from groups and the realisation that a group setting can make it hard to find the truth. 

I set these Social Butterfly situations up at networking events or mixers where I can float in and out of conversations, dropping in ideas or bringing up ideas I want to learn more about. 

Typically, these revolve around the hypothesis I’ve developed from my earlier conversations. 

"The key to success isn’t to think of these small asks as the solution to all your customer knowledge but as a step toward insight."

The big thing is to spur the conversation and really listen; don’t judge. 

‘The Work of Others’ is my cheeky way of borrowing research from businesses, foundations, and organisations investigating my questions. How does it work?

It’s simple: you plug your question into your favourite search engine and play with a few variations of the idea.

Read and review until you’ve learned what you need to know or reached the time you set for research. 

Using ‘The Work of Others’ has some great benefits: It is quick, cheap, or free, and it can help you validate an angle or hypothesis.

The downside is that it is outside your control, and you might not get the information you want.

There can be dead ends; however, you can learn solid information with an hour and a search engine. 

I’ve isolated billion-dollar market segments using this technique combined with the Quick Question and the Social Butterfly; however, it takes effort. 

This is the point in the research where I figure out if I must do things myself.

For me, doing surveys is a last-ditch effort. They take time because you need to work out the right questions.

You also need to spend time targeting and figuring out the right tools.

Surveys can also be expensive. Although the prices have come down over the years, you will still need to spend tens of thousands of dollars to get a good survey done. 

Finally, getting people to respond to surveys takes work. This has a few knock-on effects on the research you will do. Can you get the right people to respond? Can you get enough responses to make the survey valid?

Can you trust that you put together the survey in a way that ensures you learn what you need to learn? 

You may answer ‘yes’ to all three questions; however, you must also consider whether this best uses your time, money, and focus. I’ve done it both ways. 

I’ve researched on my own, and I’ve done the job using research conducted by others. 

They can both work

The big secret is to consistently use the Quick Question and the Social Butterfly to gain insights. With these insights, you can go deeper with your own research. 

Why do this? Knowing the customer isn’t a one-time thing.

Retailers are always talking to their markets because they know that their audience is always changing their wants, needs, and desires. 

They also know that guessing or predicting what people will want can be a difficult challenge. 

So, letting people help you give them what they want is best.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dave Wakeman

Contributor 


Dave Wakeman is a consultant, writer, and teacher who believes in profits, not promises. His firm advises businesses on creating focused strategies that lead to profitable growth. Visit: www.davewakeman.com

SAMS Group Australia
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