… actually being able to read your customers’ minds and know what they are thinking. Knowing that idea for a new product or a new type of marketing campaign is going to be a hit … before you spend time and money developing it.
As a marketing cadet some 20 years ago, I was taught to always do market research before I launched anything. That way I could always make sure you are producing something that customers really want.
And I learned too that the customer’s opinion is always right.
But are these statements really true?
And if you’re launching a new product can you really rely on what they say?
Your customers are the lifeblood of your business… absolutely. After all, you wouldn’t be in business without them.
Absolutely too, the more you help your customers get what they want, the more you’ll get what you want.
And – it’s ultimately your customers who will decide with their wallets, whether or not your product or service is a winner.
Here’s a big BUT, though …
Don’t, whatever you do, bet the farm on their opinions.
Before you run a marketing campaign or launch a new product, it would obviously be a huge advantage if you knew in advance whether that campaign will be successful, but relying too much on what your customers think will work will only land you in hot water.
Harvard Business School professor, Gerald Zaltman, in his book “How Customers Think” mentions that 80 percent of new services and products that have been first brainstormed by focus groups, fail within the first six months.
And – virtually all Hollywood films and TV Pilots that get the thumbs up from focus groups, fail when they go to air.
Why is that?
There is often a very big difference between what consumers say and how they behave in real buying situations.
In other words, what they say they’ll do while sitting in that conference room in a focus group is often very different to what they actually do when they’re at the shopping centre and actually parting with cash.
And at the end of the day, many consumers don’t really know on a conscious level why they do or don’t buy a certain product or another.
You see, buyer behaviour occurs in the unconscious mind and happens in real time, in real life situations. Yet when we ask customers at a focus group situation, about their feelings on whether or not they’d buy a product, we’re talking to their conscious minds.
There’s often a very big difference.
Another thing to be careful of is keyword research. Let’s say you spend a lot of time doing keyword research, checking our forums and competitor sites to see what interests people. Unfortunately, the fact that people search for information on a topic doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll actually spend money buying products in that area of interest.
2. They don’t know what they don’t know
In a 1985 interview with Playboy magazine, Steve Jobs said, “We built [the Mac] for ourselves. We were the group of people who were going to judge whether it was great or not. We weren’t going to go out and do market research.”
In 1997 in a Business Week article, he said, “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”
After all, how could customers really “get” a sense for what an Iphone was or an Ipad was until they could hold one in their hands.
3. Egoic Motivations
People attend focus groups for all manner of reasons. Most attend because they do want to help out but often once the doors of that conference room close, something unusual happens.
Their egos and biases often come into play.
You’ll find that there will be a selection of highly creative people who like to show how creative they are by sharing a lot of often very innovative ideas. The challenge is that the ideas they share are focused on their creativity, and often aren’t in line with their needs as a consumer.
Other people like to play the contrarian and will negate a lot that is said just to feel important.
And others want to be seen as the “good guy” and will say what they think you want to hear.
What to do instead?
1. Don’t waste time on focus groups at all
… unless the facilitator has the ability to use an intuitive process that actually helps people tap into their unconscious minds to uncover their real buying motives.
2. Watch buyers in a real setting
Go to the shopping centre. Watch people browse. See what they do. What do they pick up? What do they want? Get a sense for who they are.
3. Don’t ever hold focus groups for new products that you’re about to launch
… ones that don’t already exist in the market.
4. Internet research
If you’re keen on creating an information product, be careful not to allow keyword research or forum stalking, to be the sole determining factor for spending a lot of time creating a product. If you have found what you feel is a winning niche, start running ads now and promote affiliate products on similar topics to see who is buying what. As someone wise once said, “Fail forward and fail quickly.” In other words, the faster you make mistakes, the faster you’ll have successes.
4. Rely more on your “experiential intuition”
(which draws upon your past experiences on the topic) plus “higher guided intuition”.
That’s how Steve Jobs and so many other entrepreneurs do it.
A word of caution though: just be sure that what you’re tapping into is actually your intuition. Many people believe they’re getting an inspired intuitive insight about something when it’s actually an egoic urge.
If you have finely tuned in intuition, here’s something that works well …
Read your buyers’ unconscious minds – yes, that’s right.
One of the processes I go through when I consult with clients or write copy, is to intuitively tune into the “group consciousness” of the company’s ideal target market and uncover information as to buying motives, receptivity, needs, fears, frustrations and behaviours of that group. That way you bypass their conscious mind and uncover what they really want.
Remember, we’re all connected to the “super conscious mind”. What’s more, we’re all connected to other collective consciousnesses or subsets of the super conscious mind … group consciousnesses based on the country we live in, our circle of friends, our interest groups and other things we energetically resonate with.
5. Presell your product or service
So much time and money is wasted on research and development of products that eventually flop.
A simple way to save many months of development time and money is to actually pre-sell your product.
Sell advanced copies at a hugely discounted price or take pre-orders for it.
Tell your customers that the product won’t be released for a few months yet but if they purchase it now they’ll get it for half price. Then – if the take-up is high enough, then spend the time and money on R&D. But, if it isn’t high enough, don’t waste any more time or money moving on to the next product.
That’s how we do it and how many other successful internet marketers do it as well.
Kristina Mills is a direct marketing consultant who combines a highly refined intuition with 20 years of strategic marketing experience to help fast growth companies increase their marketing results and fine tune their own intuitive decision making processes. If you’d like some help intuitively brainstorming a solution, or some help fine tuning your own intuition, visit Kristina’s corporate consulting site at http://www.kristinamills.com
Kristina Mills is a highly regarded direct response copywriter, marketing strategist, entrepreneur and success strategist having worked with and produced great results for some of Australia's most inspirational entrepreneurs, speakers, event companies, professional services firms, property companies, and internet entrepreneurs. She is the author of Invisible Genius Vol1 and 2, Freelance Copywriting Fast Track Course, Direct Mail Mastery, Web Copy Mastery, Invisible Genius Vol.1 and 2, Mortgage Broker Letters that Sell, Real Estate Letters that Sell, How to Create a Sales Explosion With Every Ad and Letter Your Write. To find out more about how Kristina can help you live your potential, arrange a free 15 minute phone chat.