Customer Research

Attract and keep your customers for life

“Could you pass the Himalayan sea salt please?” -said no slug ever

Customers buy products and services to get jobs done. Dying is likely not one of them. If the product or service doesn’t get the job done, then people don’t buy. This, of course, leads us to the obvious: If we want customers to buy, then we need to know what jobs they want done.

But here’s something less obvious: We don’t just need to know what job they want done. We also need to know:

  • Why does the customer want the job done?
  • Where will they be getting the job done?
  • When will they be getting the job done?
  • Who is actually getting the job done?

In a word, we need context. Why do some customers only buy iPhones and why do some customers only buy Android phones? They both have touchscreens, they both make phone calls, but only one has iTunes.

“The iTunes Store generated a total of $10.2 billion in net sales during 2014 compared to $9.3 billion during 2013.” -Apple

What’s the iTunes of your business?

To find out, you need to know what your customers value. Do it right, and you’ll have the stuff the best marketing campaigns are made of: Solid products people love.

Customer research reveals what your customers value.

Turning your ideas into profit begins with customer research. To find and savor the value it’ll bring to your business, you’ll need to cut your customer research plate into both qualitative research and quantitative research.

To grossly simplify, qualitative research gives you the emotional understanding of their problem (their why) through deep interviews with your customer. Quantitative research gives you “what” they care about and “how many” people care about it (the size of your market) by reviewing large amounts of data you can get through a tool such as the Google Keyword planner.

Sure, there are ‘hybrid’ methods but that’s a topic for another day. Here’s the important part. Customer research doesn’t just give you context for product and competitor research, but it also gives context for the strategy and actions you’ll need to reach your business objectives.

It. Is. Critical. That. You. Get. This. Right.

To know you got it right and not guess you got it right, you’ll need to answer at the very least, these 4 questions:

  • What are my customers’ top fears and frustrations (the reality they want to avoid)?
  • What are my customers’ top wants and aspirations (the reality they want)?
  • What are my customers’ abilities and activities (the reality they have now)?
  • Am I reasonably confident that I could predict how my customers might react to a new product?

You’ll know you hit the nail on the head when, in an interview, you’re able to pre-empt what an interviewee would say and have them go “oh. my. GOD. How did you KNOW?”

Emotional hot sauce.

When you can articulate a customer’s experience better than they’re able to themselves, they’ll immediately associate you with having the solution. Then, when you practice Conversion Web Design on your website, or write Words That Sell, they’ll feel as if every color, word, and feature was designed, written, and built just for them.

If you bring that to your customer, you won’t just create Websites That Convert or Words That Sell, you’ll get and keep customers for life.

If you remember nothing else:

“Remarkable customer research is the first step to attract and keep customers for life.”

Now, let’s talk about step 2:

Product research: How to find the secret of the sauce you already made.

Research Drives Strategy

Market research for people with less than 2.1 billion dollars

If you have less than $2.1 billion, then the first rule of knowing your customer is not to do market research. Yes, you need to know your customer’s blood type, but your business will die a long (or fast) hard death if you try to copy the strategy of a Fortune 500 company. Their products, customers, markets, and respective timings are just a few factors in their revenue equations. Change just one factor in the equation by even a slight degree, and you change the result of their unseen business formula.

There is a better way. Before we cover what to do instead, we need to shed light on how market research can hurt your business. To do that, we’ll need to put the subject of our discussion under the microscope:

Market research is any organized effort to gather information about target markets or customers. It is a very important component of business strategy. [It] is a key factor in maintaining competitiveness over competitors.

– Wikipedia

Did you spot the problem?

Problem: “Any organized effort”

Being organized is easy.

Basecamp, Asana, Slack and a plethora of SaaS project management tools to “replace your email” are a dime a dozen. And, of course, there’s Gantt charts, Scrum methodology, Getting Things Done and, well, the point is Peter Drucker would be proud.

But measurement and management alone won’t grow your business. Organization alone, like Inbox Zero, puts the focus on the wrong thing. It’s not just about getting things done. It’s about getting the right things done.

To grow your online business, you can’t afford to waste time or money on “any organized effort.”

You need the right organized effort.

If you’ve got limited resources, then you’ll need to break market research into three chewable chunks that’ll feed your business:

  1. Customer research – to find the hidden motivations of who you sell to.
  2. Product research – to find the unsaid benefits of what you’re selling.
  3. Competitor research – to find the opportunities your competitors are ignoring.

Your winning business strategy lies at the intersection of all three.

Strategy means providing value to customers with unique products in a way that is different from your competitors.

– Michael Port, Harvard Business Review

Research Drives Strategy

To create a winning strategy for your next campaign or product launch, begin with the customer.

Next, we’ll do just that.

Ad Budget of a Small Country

Customers are your lifeblood. Know your blood type.

Your immune system is like money. It never sleeps. While you’re busy counting sheep, it’s on a search and destroy mission to keep germs at bay before you wake up to tackle the day.

It’s a beautiful work of art…that can also be hijacked to hold you hostage.

On the milder side, there are allergies. Harmless enough, until your immune system kicks into an overzealous mood to defend against the ‘dangerous,’ fuzzy yellow pollen invaders. But on the tragic side, an infusion of the wrong blood type after a car accident could cause the immune system to attack what it mistakenly sees as ‘foreign entities’ trying to kill you. The tragic irony, of course, is that it destroys the very thing you need to stay alive.

To avoid this, doctors and nurses meticulously track the blood types of patients to avoid the fatal reality. And in doing so, their patients go on to live healthy, rewarding lives.

The benefit of this is obvious. Interestingly enough, the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies not only know this, but actively practice it. From the Amazon-Google tech giants to consumer goods multinationals like Walmart and Campbell’s, all their CEOs know the truth.

Customers are the lifeblood of their business. And if they want healthy business, like doctors, they need to know their blood type.

The way that they do it, is with market research.

Market research is any organized effort to gather information about target markets or customers. It is a very important component of business strategy. [It] is a key factor in maintaining competitiveness over competitors.

– Wikipedia

But what if you’re not a multinational corporation with an advertising budget that rivals a small country’s economy?

The Ad Budget of a Small Country?

Then you’ll need a dangerously effective way to conduct market research without breaking the bank or having it take a lifetime.

Here’s how to think about market research if you have less than $2.1 billion dollars.

Simple Sales Funnel

The problem with your sales funnel

Your online business is like a car. It takes you places.

Your sales funnel is like a tire. If you’ve got unicyclist skills, it can take you places.

If not, going faster, changing direction, or focusing on anything else might make you kiss the pavement.

To make things easier, you’ll want more tires. For most online businesses, four tires look like:

  1. Marketing funnels that turn strangers into leads.
  2. Sales funnels that turn leads into buyers.
  3. Delivery funnels that turn buyers into active users.
  4. Referral funnels that turn active users into promoters.

You could ride fast and furious with two, or be stylish with three. But if you want speed, reliability and tight cornering, you’ll need four.

But for tires to work their best, they’ve got to work together. They need the right air pressure, balancing and if you’ve been on the road for awhile, you might even need new tires.

Your business, like a car, needs maintenance. If you’re a seasoned pro, you’ve already recognized this as operations management (ops if you’re trendy). Skip it and you bleed money.

Maintenance keeps your car running. But that’s all it does. Like cruise control, it gets you by.

But what if you want to go faster?

To do that, you gotta hit the gas.

How To Accelerate Your Online Business

If you’re gunning for the #1 spot, all 30,000 parts inside your car start to count.

You don’t get Audi R8 performance with Honda Civic parts. But it’s not just what’s inside your car that counts. If you’re leading the pack, then you’re heading into uncharted territory. And the further you’re trying to go, the more your route, weather and road conditions matter too.

That’s where digital strategy comes in.

Before your trip, digital strategy assesses the situation. First we answer critical kinds of questions:

  1. Objective: Where are we now? Where are we trying to go?
  2. Competition: Who and what are we up against?
  3. Product: What are we working with? What will we need?
  4. Customer: How can we win?

Once we’ve got a lay of the land, we choose the best way to win. Then, we fine-tune for performance.

During the trip, digital strategy tells us how to execute. As every military strategist knows, no plan survives contact with the enemy. Things will come up. Roads will be blocked. Accidents will happen. And when they do, strategy gives us alternate routes to keep moving towards our destination.

After, strategy tells us how we did and how to make the next trip better, faster and smoother. Sales campaigns are like checkpoints on the amazing race towards your business goals. At every checkpoint, we see how we did and how we can improve. Do we need to switch out tires? Oil change? New parts? We check the car, check the route and keep moving forward.

No matter your destination, no matter your route, no matter your car, digital strategy makes your business drive faster.

What Will Your Digital Strategy Look Like?

Strategy means:

“Providing value to customers with unique products in a way that is different from your market.”
– Michael Port, Harvard Business Review

For your online business, that looks like:

  • Product, competitor and customer research strategies to create a profitable plan before you launch any product or service.
  • Marketing funnel strategies that spike the heart rates of your 1,000 true fans and beyond.
  • Sales funnel strategies that describe your prospect’s problem so well, price becomes a minor detail.
  • Delivery funnel strategies that spark buyers into competitive users hell-bent on giving you the best testimonials for future sales campaigns.
  • Referral funnel strategies that inspire users to throw new customers at you.

Digital Strategy That Works

If you’ve been immersed in business, the 80/20 rule isn’t news to you. Yes, 80% of your results come from 20% of your actions.

But what happens when we 80/20 your marketing, sales, delivery and referral funnels?

That means 20% of your marketing funnels will give you 80% of your traffic.

That means 20% of your sales funnels will convert 80% of your customers.

That means 20% of your delivery funnels will engage 80% of your users.

That means 20% of your referral funnels will get you 80% of your new revenue without any new advertising cost (we call this pure profit).

What happens when you 80/20 all of your funnels for revenue, not conversion?

I call that concept a business funnel: A funnel that integrates every critical part of attracting, acquiring and keeping your best customers for life.

If you’re interested in how to plan, build and optimize this beast of a machine, then sign up for my private list.

You’ll get strategies I won’t share anywhere else — from the advice I got from Jay Abraham, the $9.4 billion man, to the exact strategies I used to attract 700,000 visitors to my first online business. But first…

Here’s What Not To Expect

I don’t believe a sales funnel is enough. Yes, a sales funnel might get you a sale, but what you really need is a machine that turns strangers into buyers, repeat buyers and promoters.

You need more than a sales funnel. You need lead generation funnels, new customer on-boarding funnels, customer retention funnels, testimonial funnels, referral funnels and more.

You need more than tactics duct-taped together from well-intentioned folks that all have just one part of the puzzle.

You need a complete system.

If you’re interested in a different approach, join us.

Go Beyond The Sales Funnel
Zero To Launch

Why I Joined Ramit’s Zero To Launch

At 9am on September 1, 2011 I sold everything I owned that couldn’t fit in my car and drove for 14 hours. I couldn’t pay my rent. Credit cards maxed out. My once stable online business tanked. 80% of my income gone overnight. I ran.

Half a day later, I showed up at my best friend’s apartment. “Take as much time as you need.” I felt lost. Then I got an email from Ramit.

Read more