Tips on understanding your customer better

Focus Group

In my previous Blog ‘Do you Put your Customer at The Heart of Everything you Do?’, I spoke about using Market Research to help you understand your customer or consumer better. Ideally you would engage a Market Research company to conduct the research on your behalf. They have the expertise and the objectivity. And I have used market research agencies myself on many occasions in my 25+ year career as a corporate marketer. However, sometimes businesses just can’t afford to hire such companies.

If yours is a business like this, here are some tips as to how you can conduct your own market research.

Do you have any of the following?

  • Customers
  • A database of your customers
  • Social Media fans (Facebook, Twitter,  LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc.)
  • Email database
  • A website

If the answer is YES then you can start talking to your customers straight away. No need to delay.

You can conduct quantitative research via a questionnaire. Survey Monkey is a fantastic free resource for creating research questionnaires http://www.surveymonkey.com  If you are a free member you can conduct simple research with a limited number of questions. However you can subscribe for a fee and ask virtually unlimited questions. Survey Monkey also analyses the results for you and you can export to Powerpoint, Word, PDF, etc., documents, saving you time in both analysing the data and preparing reports. In addition you can also filter the questions by a variety of criteria, e.g. age, gender, location, etc.

If you want to conduct qualitative research, this too can be done quickly and cheaply. You can invite respondents to your home or offices and talk to them in a Focus Group setting or conduct one-to-one In-Depth interviews. This market research methodology gives you the opportunity to ask questions and understand motivations, barriers, canvass opinions and test concepts, designs etc. You can record the interviews (with permission of the respondents) on your phone, lap top or camcorder. This will save you taking notes and enables you to be ‘in the moment’ during the interviews.

And if you want to know about potential customers or consumers you can ask them too!

I’m amazed at how generous customers and consumers are with their time. For a small incentive they are happy to give of their time. For recent focus group I conducted, the participants were given a €50 Gift Card from the client on whose behalf I was conducting the research. And they were happy to talk to me for 2 hours!!

The information that can be gathered can be so informative. It will enlighten you as to how your customer / consumer is thinking, feeling and behaving. Much better than second guessing!

How did the founders of Innocent Smoothies decide to go ahead with their venture? Simple!

They asked their potential customers. The boys sold their first smoothies from a stall at a music festival in London. A sign above the stall read “Should we give up our jobs to make these smoothies?” and people were asked to throw their empties into bins marked ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. (‘Yes’ wins.) Well, the rest is history as they say is… a very successful business, later sold to COCA COLA.

Yes, it is as simple as that! Go on…find out about your customers or consumers today!

Loretta Dignam

Loretta, owner of Loretta Dignam Consulting is a customer centric marketing consultant with 25+ years of experience with major blue chip multinationals, such as Mars Inc, Diageo Plc and Kerry Group.

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