Know Your Market. I Mean Really Know It!
I worked in the market research industry for many years.
This experience has taught me two things:
- The power of asking questions (we had a say: with great questions comes great answers),
- The importance of collecting information to make informed decisions.
Making decisions is one of the core responsibilities that fall on the shoulders of any entrepreneur, which is why founders can sometimes feel so lonely.
Of course, if you’re a business owner, you should trust your gut feelings. They are great counselors. However, you will reach a point in your journey where you need to support your intuitions with facts to ensure you move in the right direction.
Let me take an example: Your next marketing campaign. How can you become better at targeting the right people, precisely at the right time and at the right place, if you don’t continuously analyze the data you have collected?
When you make an uninformed decision, you often make assumptions. In today’s fast digital environment, what you think was true yesterday may not be relevant anymore. Therefore, the danger is that your assumptions are wrong.
There’s a difference between thinking you know and knowing.
Let me take another example: Your customers. How much do you (think you) know about them? How connected do you believe you are with them?
You probably assume that you understand them enough, but I will assume that you don’t know them as much as you think you do.
Yes, I‘m making an assumption, although, since it relies on many conversations I’ve had with clients, start-ups, and entrepreneurs, you can consider it more of a fact than a belief.
I told you I learned about the power of asking questions.
Often, entrepreneurs get stuck in a situation because they aren’t asking themselves the questions that lead to the right answers.
Asking questions is a skill, and like any skill, it must be practiced. The most insightful questions will force you to look at a situation from a different perspective. You know, what we call “thinking out-of-the-box”. Basically, taking a step back and looking at what’s happening from higher ground.
For instance, would you rather ask yourself the question A) How do I know if my business is successful? or B) Where would I like to see my business in 10 years?
Let me help you. You can’t see whether your business is successful if you don’t define what success looks like first. Therefore, question B will provide you with the right answers.
So here’s a question for you: When was the last time you talked to a customer?
Despite what you may believe, you’re not in their heads. Postulating the contrary is pure arrogance, and you should check your ego.
If you want to test your hypotheses, if you’d like to learn how your clients feel, behave, and most importantly understand why they do the things they do the way they do it, the most efficient approach is to simply ask them.
Ask them the right questions of course.
The more you know about your customers, the more you stay connected with your market, the easier you understand their needs.
As your company grows, and your role evolves, you will face the risk of being gradually disconnected from your customer base.
Make it a habit to regularly talk to your clients. For instance, schedule a certain number of meetings with customers every week in your calendar, and stick to it.
Also, I strongly recommend you maintain a list of core questions that you’ll use during these conversations.
Indeed. Remember who pays you so you can pay the bills.