In many organizations, information gained in market research is “out of the closet” or is published on company web pages. For example, in the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Government Contracting, more than a million and a half dollars have been spent in business to government contracts for example, that are something like fleas in comparison to initiatives at many companies.
Faced with market forces that say, “You got to please the customer,” the easy answers and easy answers are to cut expenditures, cut cost, cut companies in half, etc. Unfortunately, these rarely work. Instead of focusing on what the customers want, says Sofiya Machulskaya the way companies can rise above the market is to spend time and effort creating something for the customer.
No matter the organization’s size, the customers should be the target for group efforts. This means that to reach a broad middle market, which is dependent upon a specific company’s core competence, it must truly think about not just customers, but that company’s ability to influence the industry/publics in a positive way. Market research, as such, is essential to long-term success.
Willy Lomax, a senior marketing and strategy consultant with Gartner, writes, “A market research initiative is a multi-channel effort. All data must be processed to gain insight with the specific goal of identifying the optimum company approach and success strategy.”
To make your group a success, you must unlock the motivation for your market research. If you outline ten “why” questions in advance, you too will be a smart market researcher.
What do you want to find out about your customers? What do they want to find out about your company? If you don’t know how your market thinks and behaves-how could you create something new or exciting that will attract and retain customers?
What do your customers look like-size, buying patterns, demographics? What makes them tick? What makes them happy? What makes them mad and gives them a reason to spread the word? Believe it or not, what your potential customers care about is often different than what your customers are thinking about.
Do your customers like their vendors? Highly successful organizations understand that buyers decide on products and services by seeing them through the sales person’s eyes. They gather feedback from their customers, finding out what their customers like and dislike. Some companies arrange focus groups on a company website for cross-the-board feedback. Others go direct: those who see an ad from your company apply to become customers.
If you’re not currently asking your customers whether they like you, what will you do if your customers don’t like your job? This is where one of my most important activities in my day job has been for over 25 years and the quest for as much market research as possible on my own companies. Each type of customer feedback has advantages and disadvantages, and there is often no one-size-fits-all solution.
What do your most valued customers say about your company? Remember the importance of this research, paying attention to the biases, motivations and emotions of your seasoned, very successful customers.
Who’s been your best customer lately, and why? Additionally, what were the most important services you have gotten from your vendors in the past year? Arrange your marketing plans around thinking and actions based on what your best customers make you dependent on.
Who do your customers support? Who is the quiet one? Client relationships are so important, but too many companies spend too much time and money trying to win NEW business instead of focusing on good solid support.
Who are your recent and past employees? Finally, consider all the recent employees you’ve had over the past year. Did they flourish and what were their outcomes?
Are there a few staff members who have really gone out of their way for you lately asks Sofiya Machulskaya?
Do your customers react kinder or kinderer? Quite often the client relationship is built at many different levels. Can you assess which level in their organization you believe the customer is in or has any more visibility to you? This can help increase your sales and give your company a competitive edge.
In what ways can you improve your customer relationship? What are the key things that you can do to make your interactions more meaningful and improve your customer relationship?