Imperfect market research is better than none at all
Voltaire’s famous quote, “The perfect is the enemy of the good,” applies to so many 21st century challenges we face.
With information more readily available than ever before, we can easily find models of the “perfect” approach or solution to a business problem. But, perfect usually doesn’t come cheaply or quickly, whereas real-world business challenges often need to be solved with lightening speed on a tight (or non-existent) budget.
This conundrum, when businesses know what perfect looks like but don’t have the resources to make it a reality, can result in paralysis. We see this all the time with companies who need market research to better understand their target audiences. They know the information is important, but they don’t feel comfortable doing research unless they can conduct a third-party, quantitative study. As a result, they get stuck with outdated data or no data at all. To avoid this, good enough can and should overshadow perfect.
When budgets or timelines don’t permit formal market research, it’s time to get creative about how your business can learn more about its audience quickly and efficiently. Often, interviewing just 10 representatives of your target audience can be very informative, and it’s certainly better than assuming you know what matters to them most when evaluating your products or services.
Here’s a list of a few other ideas for getting great information about your target audience on the cheap:
- • Conduct a quick and inexpensive online survey -
Create a short online survey using SurveyMonkey or a comparable tool, then send it to your clients or prospective clients with a personalized note telling them how important their feedback is to you.
- • Work the floor at industry events -
Maximize your opportunity to get feedback at tradeshows and other industry events. If your business is exhibiting at a conference, prepare a quick survey for attendees to complete at your booth in exchange for a small incentive (like a Starbucks gift card or a branded tumbler).
- • Tap into what your sales team already knows -
Chances are they have heard a lot from your audience about why your company has won or lost business in the past.
- • Go where your audience goes online -
Visit the forums and blogs with which your audience is engaging. LinkedIn is a great resource for this, and you can join groups that pertain to your client’s business and pose questions directly to the group. Or, you might be surprised to find that members of your audience are already having discussions about working with companies like yours. Just be mindful that these forum conversations are not meant to be sales opportunities.
Could you still have some blind spots with these methods? Of course. But, you will also gain actionable insight about your audience that you wouldn’t have had otherwise.
Feature image: Infinite Knots | Patrick Gunderson