All, Market Research, Most Popular

Forget What Your Mother Told You—Talk to Strangers

Having spent half a decade at a market research firm, I’m always a bit irked when firms dismiss the value of market research.  The days of ‘build it and they will come’ are long gone, and the insights that market research provides can be the make-or-break factor for a startup.

Sure, market research sounds like a lofty and expensive effort, especially to startups, but it doesn’t have to be that way.  I have worked with startups to run compact yet impactful programs that have yielded some revolutionary ‘ah ha’ moments.

For those DIY entrepreneurs, starting small by thinking like a market researcher and committing even an hour a month to market research activities can go a long way.

Conduct Your Own Market Research

If you only do one thing in this area, it should be to talk to strangers – relevant strangers, that is.  You need to engage people you’ve never spoken to who comprise your target demographic to gain deeper insights and fresh perspectives.  Thanks to tools like LinkedIn, finding these folks is easy.  Here’s what to do:

  1. Focus your effort: Narrow down the firm types and job titles relevant to you.
  2. Reach out: Request brief, 1-on-1 conversations no more than 20 minutes long.
  3. Do not sell: When you’re on the phone with them, do not try to sell your product or service.  Remember, this is not a sales call.
  4. Ask questions: Ask them about their day-to-day, their pain points and goals, and then share your concept. Be sure to ask for feedback.
  5. Listen in new ways: As you listen, don’t just listen to the content, write-down the precise language they use to describe their pain points and perspectives.
  6. Carve out an hour a month: Schedule a few discussions each month, and regroup with advisors or colleagues to brainstorm the insights and implications of your findings.

As you repeat this practice over time, you will find ‘golden tickets’ that will help you evolve your company message, refine your go-to-market strategy, and better connect with your target market.