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The Only Research That Works

by Doug Davidoff | Apr 30, 2010 4:17:22 AM

I got an email today from a marketing consultant cautioning everyone to be careful not use customer satisfaction surveys when double blind market research is more appropriate.  The consultant warns, in surveys, "customers often rate everything as important.”

While I certainly agree with the assessment of how surveys provide less than reliable data, I couldn’t resist commenting on the idea that double blind studies “make the information you get more actionable.”

Maybe if your Proctor and Gamble, Microsoft or Coca-Cola market research may really matter (though it’s interesting that even Proctor and Gamble, the father of modern market research has turned away from traditional research).

However, if you’re a small or mid-sized business, and you feel you need to do formal market research, then you should be treated as the commodity that you are.  The problem with market research is that it creates a feeling of certainty where there is none.

There is only one type of research you should consider doing:  spending time with customers, learning absolutely everything you can about them.  Watch what they do, listen to their goals and what’s frustrating them, etc.  What are they saying, and more importantly, what aren’t they saying.  Understand them better than they understand themselves.

Then take that knowledge, connect to your expertise, and you’ll have actionable research that actually drives sales and margins.