Marketing Guru Pro Series #3 | What you don't know (and how it can hurt you).

December 06, 2012


I hope this note finds you enjoying the satisfaction of a productive week. Locally here in Nashville, we remain blissfully humidity free. So I’m writing outside today, for as long as I can tolerate the high pollen count!

This next installment in my Marketing Guru Pro series is all about your customer, client or prospect. The target of your desire. The one you wish to sway, convince, motivate or inspire.

Whether you are an entrepreneur with a great business solution that is certain to change the way things are done in your industry; a mid-level business owner who has enjoyed relative stability over the last several years; or a successful brand that continues an upward trajectory, you cannot deny this: your customers are ever changing in their needs, wants and desires.

The question is, what do they want now? Where are they spending their time? How do they wish to interact with you? What do they know about you? What do they think about you?

One of the most cost-effective ways to get these answers and more is with qualitative research. Something the big brands do routinely.

Qualitative research can be conducted in various arenas. Many individuals think automatically of one-way mirrors and focus groups. While I’ve participated in my share of these, my work with small to mid-size businesses begged another, more cost effective way in which to get inside the hearts and minds of target audiences. I conducted one of my first one-on-one research endeavors on behalf of Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center. I was asked to go and meet with oncologists and figure out what they thought about VICC and its bone marrow program. I developed a query that served a greater strategy (if I had their attention, I explained to the Chief, I may as well take this work to the next level), and went about the work of setting up meetings with oncologists in Kentucky, Northern Alabama, Western Tennessee, and Southern Illinois.

What I learned was this:

1. People will be very candid with you. They appreciate being heard.

2. Once you get them talking, they will more than likely give you even more of their time than anticipated.

3. The re-occurring themes tend to rise to the surface quickly.

4. You don’t need a large sample to garner invaluable information.

In the case of VICC, I learned what their competition was up to, what was missing in these relationships, and what was needed to strengthen the brand’s reputation.

An important key to success in this type of endeavor? Objectivity. Even if you beg for the truth, no one will feel comfortable sharing it with you. A third party, unrelated to your business is required.

Finally, offer a gift card in exchange for their time. It’s the thoughtful thing to do, and in some instances, may be just the motivation needed to secure an interview!

Now you can venture into new service offerings, campaigns or launches with confidence! Just remember, don’t conclude unless you’ve asked!

Have a great rest of your week. Until next time!

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