Do Less Market Research But Know Much More About Your Customers

Do you always need the market research studies you run?

You might have seen a recent post of mine on LinkedIn where I said how frustrated I am with marketers who start with a survey when they have a question, rather than ending with one.

If you too have this habit, then I want to share how you can do fewer surveys and yet still know much more about your customers. 

Let me start by saying that I am not suggesting that companies don’t run market research. Rather, I am proposing that they don’t conduct a survey before having reviewed their current situation in detail. And in particular, the information that is already available inside the organisation.

In many companies, there is far more information available than people realise. Research shows that 68% of data is not used by businesses who invest in it — that’s over two-thirds of data – and budgets – wasted!

To make optimum use of your resources – time, money, and people – my suggestion is to first gather and analyse what is already available. In this way, any research that is conducted will be far more focused, and usually faster and cheaper too!


In my CATSIGHT™ process for actionable insight development, data gathering is the sixth of the seven steps! If you’d like to learn more about it, then do check out my online course on the topic. In under two hours, you will learn how to easily develop insights that can be immediately put into action.


 

Ten Reasons NOT to Run Market Research

One of my cornerstone posts here, which continues to receive hundreds of views every month is “Ten reasons NOT to conduct market research.” In summary, I advise leaders to avoid surveys:

  1. Where the objectives are not well defined, and the issue or opportunity needs further clarification.
  2. Where the cost of running the survey exceeds its value, especially in how the information will be used.
  3. Where the budget is too small to do an adequate job of information gathering. In this case, corners will be cut, either in terms of the depth of the investigation or in the sample size.
  4. Where the time available to run and report on the project is too short. This is often a problem when new products or communication campaigns are being tested, and there is a delay in their delivery for testing.
  5. That could “tip off” the competition by researching the confidential topic. Obviously running projects on ultra-secret development work is ill-advised unless you carefully control who is interviewed.
  6. Where the findings would not be actionable. Hopefully, this can be avoided by having detailed clarification of the objectives of the study.
  7. That are motivated by internal politics, such as to prove a point, rather than by a need for information.
  8. That are designed to measure trends that progress too slowly or too fast and thus will provide insignificant changes.
  9. Where the agency used to gather the information is unreliable or unethical. This may
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Three Clever Ways to Know the Competition Better

What is the secret to success in business? That’s easy! It’s how well you know the competition.

Alright, maybe this is a slightly over-simplified perspective, but it always surprises me how many companies work with a primarily internal focus.

I have written many posts about knowing your customers, such as “Why Customers Are The Answer To All Your Problems (If You Ask the Right Questions).” Watching and listening to them in order to fully understand their rational needs and emotional desires is a great – and free! – way to start.

But today I would like to speak about doing exactly the same thing for your competitors. If you are going to succeed in attracting their customers away from their products and services, then it would make sense to know them as well as you do your own.

Here’s a simple three-step process to do so. 

 

Encourage employees to use competitive products & services

Know the competition better by trying their products and services.In most organisations today, using competitive products is still frowned upon; after all, we make the best don’t we, so why use those of other companies?

However to challenge and beat the competition you have to intimately know what you are up against. Regular contact with competitive products will encourage your employees to evaluate your own offering. They will also be encouraged to suggest competitors’ strengths and weaknesses that were perhaps not evident before. It will also ensure that you are rapidly aware of any improvements made by the competition. You won’t get left behind and find yourself suffering from declining sales due to competitive improvements of which you are unaware.

This intimacy with competitors’ products and customers should be requested of employees at all levels, by being one of their annual objectives. Of course, in some industries this might not be possible, due to the selective nature of the product or service, but certainly for most consumer products and service companies, this can easily be done on a regular basis.

Now encouraging people to use competitive products is easy to say, but you should also be prepared to invest in it, by paying for your employees to experience them. It would be unfair, and would certainly be resented, if your people had to spend their own money to make such experiences. This knowledge gathering should be seen as an investment by your organisation, of at least equal value to offering your employees discounts on your own products and services.

Why don’t you start a similar process and add these experiences to everyone’s annual objectives? It’s a great way, and a free one at that, to know the competition better than you do today.

 

Make a Library of Competitive Products and Material

KNow your competition better by sharing what you knowIn one of my previous positions, the company had an incredible competitive library. This included every single competitive product that was available from all around the world, classified by country and organised by segment.

Everyone found this library extremely useful, especially when discussing such topics as shelf impact, packaging or in … Click to continue reading

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