Do you really understand your customer’s needs?
One of the simplest forms of market research that I know is
called lunch. It isn’t an overwhelmingly complex strategy and it doesn’t
involve thousands of dollars. Here is how it works and yes, it is a ridiculously simple and obvious idea.
You invite a prospective client to lunch.
In your handwritten invitation, you share
with them that you are conducting market research to understand how your
products and services can solve the problems that customers face. In meeting in person, you share with them that
your goal is to ask a few questions and listen to them explain how they
evaluate suppliers or service providers.
And you make them a promise that you aren’t going to try and
sell them anything. All you want is to have lunch and learn.
Most people you reach out to will be happy to share their
point of view with you for a free sandwich.
Potential customers love to talk and often share all
insights that are best when discussed away from the office. A buyer or department
manager may tell you that they can’t really make decisions but can only make
recommendations to acquire new (fill in the blank). You realize how things work at this company
and it opens your eyes up to how other businesses may also work. In between bites, you get to ask WHY QUESTIONS. Why do you do this, why do you do that? Since it is for research purposes, they expect you to ask these types of questions and you aren't trying to say, "Well we do this or that". You aren't selling and you don't try to pitch them. This is important. Just get them talking.
Like an anthropologist observing a foreign tribe, you want
to see, to hear and to learn how things work at the prospect’s business.
Three things often happen:
First, you make a friend and a connection. Someday they may become a customer.
Second, you gain at least one new insight about selling to
businesses like your lunch mates. Maybe you learn something that helps you sell to others who have similar businesses. For example, you might not realize that it is the CFO not the head of marketing making a decision and you are talking with the wrong person.
Third, a door has been opened when at some point, they may
ask you to describe your business and what you do. By connecting at a human level, you are no longer a sales woman trying to pitch them. Instead you are Justine, a real live person who respects their knowledge and is trying to learn something from them.
Lunch. One of the secrets of market research and it costs
under $20. Give it a try. And if you do, please share with me and my readers how this simple idea worked for you.
Are you ready to order lunch and learn something new?
Notes: If you enjoy my posts, would you share it with your marketing friends? And check out my new book on Amazon. At $2.99 it is a great value. 21 useful lessons based on my marketing experiences. A paperback version will be published in a few weeks for those who like to hold a book in their hands.
Labels: lunch and learn, Marketing Moments, marketing strategies, Sandwich marketing, small business marketing, small business research