“Nothing important happens inside the office.”
Some of you may recognize this statement as one of the mantras of Pragmatic Marketing. If you aren't familiar with the idea, the premise is simple: you won’t find the important answers to questions about your product inside your office.
Why? Because you are neither the buyer or the user of your product. To tap into your customers’ needs, you need to reach outside your own organization and find out what your customers have to say.
Step Outside The Office
In the process of making critical business decisions, internal teams tend to talk a lot amongst themselves. Each team member bring years of experience to the table that informs their expertise and opinions on things. They talk about what they've seen in the market, what they think about the product, and what they should do next.
Sure, that’s all great knowledge equity. BUT it doesn’t really matter if it’s not congruent with what’s happening with real people in real time in the real world.
"Your opinion, although interesting, is irrelevant." — Pragmatic Marketing Rule
One of the worst errors in marketing is not fully understanding your customers’ problems and needs. Many people think that they understand their customers, but remember: nothing important happens inside your office. You won't truly understand what the user needs until you get out there and talk to them.
Start a Conversation
While at my last job, I worked with a brilliant product manager who was constantly on the phone with customers using our budgeting tool.
The transcripts of his conversations were incredibly valuable to us. Our conversations about what we thought we should do with the product totally paled in comparison to what we heard from customers.
So, how can you get outside your own office and get to know your buyers better? Pick up the phone or meet with them in person and talk to them. To get you started, here are some questions to kickstart a conversation:
- What was your biggest challenge last week?
- What is your most important priority this week?
- What do you think about on your commute to and from work each day?
- If there was a product or service that could help you the most, what would it do?
- Is there a current process or a product that adds difficulty to your job?
- What do you see as your biggest challenge over the next 12 months?
- If we could take away your biggest headache, what would it be?
- What do your internal and or external customers complain about?
- What one thing, if changed, would enable you to significantly improve your results?
These questions provide a great starting point, but you’ll probably find that the conversation takes on a life of its own—and that’s a good thing! Your customer will be able to reveal things about themselves and their needs much better than you can guess them. Let the conversation flow.
Don’t have a pool of customers yet? Use Survey Monkey or Ask Your Target Market (AYTM) to ask similar questions to targeted groups of people closest to your target customers. Is quick, easy, and cheap!
Once you’ve gathered up this information from interviews, put it to work in your business. Next time, we’ll talk about how to leverage your understanding of customers’ concerns to map a “buyer matrixSM” — the intersection where market problems meet your product features.
Questions? Let us help answer them. Contact us here.