Target Markets Lie: Some Strange Truth in Pointy Boots
According to the Southern Culture on the Skids song lyrics, we are all searching for truth and pointy boots.
Only one way to discover what your market thinks is to go out and ask them. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Gather your market, ask a few questions and work your way through it. Then, rush home and analyze the results. Use that information to improve your product and boost your services, and propel your business into the stratosphere.
It’s so simple. It’s not. It’s impossible.
Asking questions is the only way to discover the truth.
It would be easy to ask the right questions and analyze them objectively. Your market will lie to you, it is true. They are not the most pleasant people in the world, but they are wired to answer your market research questions by spreading misinformation. They are not malicious, and they don’t intend to do this. It’s the way things work in the human world.
Many businesses ask the wrong questions or ask them the wrong way. This adds to the problem. Some people are so focused on selling their product; they don’t realize that they are using Q&A sessions to promote themselves and not to gain valuable information that can help them offer a better service. Some people don’t know enough to dig deep enough to find the information that will make a difference. It’s not easy to ask questions.
Are you asking the right questions?
It may surprise you to find that most businesses only ask questions that lead them to the correct answers. This is understandable. After selling products for a while, all you really want to hear is that your product is successful and your customers love it. This approach won’t do anything for your business except to teach you how to tread water.
It is just as important to ask the right questions as it is to ask the right ones. This is another trap you can fall into. Businesses can ask questions to push people in a particular direction.
You need to be open to receiving as many truthful and detailed answers as possible. Although it’s not an easy task, it is possible. These answers will bring more value to your business than all the skewed responses that you have received because you didn’t plan your approach well.
There are many reasons your market lies to you.
Most people will answer a question. People who are eager to please will tell you the truth. They will tell you what you want.
Let’s suppose you are passionate about your product. This will make it easier for you to attract the attention of your interviewer.
However, if your enthusiasm is less than that of a raccoon in a dishwasher, you will get the answers you want.
People don’t like being embarrassed. If you ask them a specific question, they will likely answer it in the way they believe is best. If you ask them how important it is to have good quality, home-grown US products, they might answer: “Hell yes!” They are essential to me. However, what may be more important to them is how easy and cheap the product is. They don’t care about where the product was made, as long as they can find a deal.
There are many other reasons why group members lie.
It might seem that you’ll get more good answers if you work in groups than you do individually. The truth is that you won’t. Each group has its own dynamics. Depending on how many people are present in a given place, the answers may be heavily biased to reflect the collective mentality. Sometimes, one or more people can lead a group and influence what others say or agree with. This makes it difficult to evaluate the data rationally.
How to dig deeper with the right questions
Market research questions should be as non-judgemental as possible. It is about allowing people to talk as freely as possible and not forcing them to answer in a specific manner.
Remember, we are looking for truth, not an affirmation of the quality of your product. Ask questions like:
* Please tell me more about this…
* I am curious about how does this (the problem) affects…
* Please help me to understand why this (the desired solution) would be a good idea.
* What would you do if you could…?
* What would you do if you couldn’t…?
* What would you instead do in a perfect world?
* How will this make a difference in your life?
Although conversational questioning can be challenging to master, it is a handy skill that you should develop.
Don’t forget that words can be compelling, but there are also non-verbal communication cues that can encourage you to dig deeper into a specific line of questioning. You can add power to your market research by learning to recognize and understand these cues.
Objectiveness is the art of being objective.
It’s not only your market that can be misleading. Market researchers can also bring their own prejudices and expectations into the equation. This can further skew the data. Even if you have the best questions and the best way to ask them, your business could end up in the wrong direction if you don’t trust your data.