Quick & Dirty – Market Research for Small Businesses

Simple, straightforward market research methods for deep audience insight and messaging that attracts buyers – the Quick & Dirty!

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- Transcript -

Hi, kittens. Thank you for joining me. We’re here today to talk about the unglamorous but extremely important topic of market research and why. Why is market research important?

Because having an understanding of how to extract learnings from the market, the market you’re operating in, is really a magic ingredient that’s going to help you to avoid making a lot of mistakes in your messaging, in your offers, in your promotions, and it is going to help you assess at every step of your business growth what is working, in other words, what is resonating with your audience.

Now, ultimately, of course, we do have the cold hard data of sales figures to guide our actions, but it’s not always easy to tell what is making the difference between messaging that converts and messaging that doesn’t. So having a research process will help to guide and shape everything that goes into turning a stranger into a client as quickly and as easily as possible. And that’s always the mission, right? To turn strangers into clients as efficiently as we can.

And so it stands to reason, it makes logical sense, that the more we know and understand about the people who make up our audience – the audience that we have right now, not the audience that we wish we had or the audience that we’re building, but the audience that we have right now – the more we know and understand about the people whose attention we have, the more informed our strategic and creative decisions can be, right? That makes sense.

So I’m going to give you a few examples of how you could start using market research today. And if you’re not already booking lots of client calls and sales calls, this is a really good use of your time. Use your time to go into market research, because what you learn is going to help your messaging, it’s going to help your understanding of your audience, and it’s going to help you, therefore, make a really good guess at what they’re going to respond to.

And before I tell you, give you these examples, I do have to caveat this with the truism. People don’t always take the actions that they say that they would take in a research setting. So we do always have to take the findings with a pinch of salt. However, it’s still the best and most useful method that we have for trying to predict what people are going to do, at least until we’ve built up a large kind of bank of data and evidence of our own to help us predict that.

Again, just to recap why we’re doing this. If you don’t know what your audience wants or what they respond to, you’re going to find it hard to sell to them. And if you’re going to invest a lot of time, a lot of money, a lot of energy or resources into something. So for example, you’re creating a new offer or launching a new lead magnet funnel, or you are running ads, you can reduce the risk, all business activities carry risk, but you can reduce the risk so that you go in feeling as confident as you can that your assumptions, your conjectures are as close to correct as you can be. Of course, there are going to be nasty surprises. There are always nasty surprises, but nevertheless, we move. And although market research is not infallible, far from it, it is, as I say, it is still the best tool that we’ve got.

So let’s talk about some ways you can do some market research. So the first I’m going to mention is competitor analysis. This is researching the market that you are operating in. Before you do this, make sure you have your big girl underwear on your CEO hat. This can be triggering. It can be difficult to look at other businesses, other businesses, which are obviously showing their highlight reels, showing the best of themselves. It can be difficult to look at other people in your niche and analyze what they are doing. But we need to get into the habit of looking at social media, researching competitors, researching the market with the CEO mindset. So look at what other people in your niche are selling, what language they’re using. If they are selling a particular outcome, you can too. If they are over a long period of time, have a kind of core offer that they promote month after month, year after year, you can feel fairly confident that it is selling and you can sell that same outcome too. What outcome are they promising? What language are they using? If they are selling a specific outcome, there is a desire in the markets for that outcome. And so your challenge is to think, what would I do differently? How could I do it better? Again, the trick is not to get into comparison mode, not to start comparing your year two or three to their year 10, right? Act like a CEO, business head on, business actions, business decisions.

This is a great one for competitor analysis. Record a voice note on your phone. They really are listening to you. Record a voice note as if you were your own ideal client saying something like, oh, I don’t know, saying something like, “I am so done. I’m doing like an old fashioned phone, do it like this. I am so done with hot flashes. I can’t handle these night sweats anymore. Brain fog is ruining my life. I really want a solution. I’m not willing to go to the pharmaceutical route just yet. Somebody must be able to help me.” Record that voice note. And I predict that within a few hours, targeted ads will start showing up in your social media feeds. So that is a great way to identify what your competitors are doing so that you can see how your solution fits in where the gap is that you can fill in your market.

Okay. So competitor analysis is one. While we’re on the subject of looking at your social media feed, social media listening is another method for your market research. Look at your social media feed, but look at it as a creator instead of a consumer. It’s a different mindset, but as you scroll through your feed, one, you’re going to see ads popping up, obviously, and every ad is a response to a need in the market. That’s one way of identifying the transformations that people are looking for, right? But also look in the groups you’re in, see what your friends and other people in your network and your audience are posting about. People leave clues everywhere about what they’re struggling with if you are open to see.

But if you are active on social media, you do have access to a large group of people to ask, right? You have your own social media network. Your following. You have your email list. You have your own Facebook group. Your own Facebook group. You have other people’s groups that you are active in. So you can use that population for broad research. Running a poll, using those stickers in your stories. Do you prefer this name or that? Are you interested in this class or workshop or that one? So like testing names of lead magnets, which would you be more drawn to? Which live event would you like to come to? I’m planning a series of workshops. Which one should I do first, A, B, or C?

The other thing you can do with large groups is set up a questionnaire. You will probably have to incentivize people to fill it out. But if you have something that people want, like a program that you could offer, you could offer to people which isn’t going to eat into your profit margins because it’s already created and it costs you nothing to deliver it.

Or again, like a raffle option for a reading or a class or a one-off session. Incentivizing people to fill in a questionnaire. I’ll give you my market research questionnaire that I used some time ago. I haven’t used it recently, but I think it will be still useful for you. You could even copy it and use it for your own market research. The benefit of that is that you can go into a bit more detail. It’s a little bit more refined and finessed than just kind of the blunt object of asking this or that. You can ask questions where people need to kind of write a few sentences to give you their response. And that’s an absolute goal because people are giving you their language and you can literally copy their language from the questionnaire into a document called audience language and use it in your sales and promotional copy.

So that’s a little bit about using larger groups like the whole market, your whole social media feed, your whole social media network to get insights into the market. But for a lot of us who don’t have huge audiences, it can sometimes be easier to get that insight on more of a one-to-one basis.

So here’s the technique I call the win-win call. Very simple. Here’s what you do. Here’s how the process goes. Number one, you post on your social media feed about something connected to your work. Somebody who engages on your post, they like it or heart react it or leave a comment. You send them a message and say, thank you so much for supporting my work for responding to this post. I really appreciate the engagement. I’m just getting started. And I was wondering if there’s any chance you would be happy to take just a 20-minute call with me. I literally have nothing to sell you, but I would love to find out what your biggest desires are, what are your biggest priorities, because it’s going to help me out so much. I’d be happy to buy you a coffee and you can literally buy somebody a coffee gift card, a coffee shop gift card in exchange for their time. And you might have to ask a few people a few different times, but then we’d look the call, jump on the call, and for 20 minutes, you listen. Ask about their desires, ask about their challenges, ask about their priorities and what blocks them, and then listen. At the end of the call, ask them, do you have any questions for me? Some people, not everybody, but some people will ask about what you do and the ways that you work with people. And then you just agree to keep in touch. You add them to your CRM and you keep in touch. They may or may not ever go on to become a paying client, but what you have got is some really deep insight into what your audience’s desires, challenges, priorities, blocks are. And although their answers won’t apply to everyone in your audience, they will apply to other people as well. Nobody is that completely unique, that they are the only person struggling with that particular challenge or priority. Okay? So that’s the win-win call.

Another way of getting market research from one particular individual is doing it in DM conversations. Obviously, you know I love a DM conversation. One way to do this, imagine we have posted some lead generation content. I have just finished editing a video on XYZ. Please raise your hand if I can send it to you, right? You are going to get the most value from those leads if you ask some questions in the DMs. Go and watch the class on DM conversations. But even without that, even without having watched that, you know instinctively that it can feel overbearing. It can feel even aggressive to just go straight to pitching, okay? But asking some questions ahead of time is just a way of easing into the relationship and it gives you some absolute gold in terms of the information that you get from those questions.

So questions might be like, how does this issue impact your life on a daily basis? What have you already tried? What keeps you from trying ABC? Those questions in your DMs, nobody is going to object to them if it’s just part of an easy flowing conversation. But it’s easy to overlook those answers when what they are is actually really valuable market research insights that are going to inform your marketing and your offer creation and your promotion and your messaging and everything. Just because you didn’t deliberately set out to do market research in a conversation doesn’t mean that you can’t take the insights or the information from that conversation and add it into your bank, your library of insights of what you know about your audience, okay?

So yes, I’m messaging because you said you were interested in this video, would it be okay to ask you a couple of questions? How is this going for you? What have you tried? And then when people reply to you, you need to respond as if they were a paying client. All of that is in the DM conversation class, but the information that your engaged leads give you here is absolute gold. And even if you don’t actually like note it down anywhere, you are going to start to spot patterns and themes in emerging from what you hear.

Okay, another DM conversation. Message somebody you know well. This is not for a cold DM. This is for somebody who you have already connected with. You have already had conversations potentially about working together, certainly had conversations about your work. You’re already in conversation with them. So if you have somebody in mind, you could just message them now and say, “Hey, do you have a couple of minutes? I would love to ask you a couple of research questions.” Assuming they say yes, I’m going to give you my example. My first question, the context for this, I wanted to put together a high ticket one-to-one offer. So I identified somebody in my audience who I knew would be pretty close to my ideal client for such an offer, messaged her and asked her, “As above, do you have a couple of minutes?” So I can ask you a couple of research questions. Super easy, no pressure to get back to me immediately. And the first question was this, “What do you really want from your business right now? What do you wake up wanting?” Okay, so that’s question one. Obviously, you can take out business and what do you really want from your relationships right now? What do you really want from your energy levels and health right now? What do you wake up wanting? Okay, and in this case, the answer was, “I want a spacious calendar and a full bank account.”

What a brilliant answer. So, so insightful, so concise, exactly what I needed. So my second question, why do you think it’s difficult to create? We’re asking your audience for their assessment of why it’s difficult to create. What you’re looking for is their insight on the problem or the challenge or the issue, not your diagnosis, not your assessment of why they are struggling, but what they believe is going on. Marketing and messaging is very much an exercise in shape-shifting and being able to embody what your ideal client is going through, what they’re thinking about, what they’re looking for, what they’re listening out for, so that you can be that thing, okay? So that’s the second question. Why is that difficult to create? Ask clarifying questions.

And in my example, the person in my audience said she was confused about pricing, she was confused about all her different offers. There was just a whole lot of confusion going on and not knowing what activities to prioritize. Okay, so we’ve already got some absolute wonderful insights here. And then the final question I asked was, and this is the real good one, if you were to design the perfect solution, this is my question, if you were to design the perfect solution for you, what kind of support would you include to get you to where you want to be?

So I’m actually getting my ideal client, although she’s not a client, we’re going to talk about that in a moment, but this person in my audience, I’m actually asking her to design the kind of support that she would want to meet her, to meet her needs, to get her to desires. She said, I would want somebody to have a holistic view of my entire business structure and me in it. And then I would, and that would help me to get down to the nitty gritty of building the various components. So I would want strategy and copywriting and coaching for when it all goes wrong. She told me I’m not interested in peer support or community or group offers because I get too distracted by the other voices and what they’re doing. Amazing. I literally asked her to design the perfect solution for her problems as she sees them.

Do you see how this is like such a potent set of questions to ask? If you have somebody in your audience who there’s a measure of goodwill between you, she’s not already a client, but she does closely match the kind of person that you would really love to work with. Okay. Incredible little exchange. The whole thing took about five minutes. I put it in some notes. The next morning it was a new offer. I posted about it five figures and literally sold a spot the very next day to a different person. The language from audience member one so closely matched the challenges of audience member two, but she just jumped in straight away. Okay. So a couple of DM conversations that you could try today.

Another method of market research, validating the idea. Most of you will know I never want you to create a course or program or offer or record or write a single piece of teaching curriculum until you have sold a spot. Validating an idea is a way to test the market and actually give you proof of concept or not before you invest any time, energy and resources into creating something. And that can be as simple as this. Ask your audience. I have an idea for something. I have an idea for a program that would, and then the transformation that you offer without having to do this thing that they don’t want to do. Is that something that you would be interested in? It can be as simple as that. I have an idea for XYZ. Is that something that you might be interested in? If you get a few people saying yes, go for it. Full steam ahead, start selling. And if you get absolute crickets, then maybe you need to change something about the, uh, the way that you’re presenting the idea before progressing. Okay. Can you see how that makes sense to test your idea in the market before actually moving ahead with it?

Now it is worth saying that if you have a very small audience and you haven’t been particularly nurturing and engaging your audience, so none of your posts are getting much engagement, you may need to ask more than once. But validating the idea with your audience before going ahead to build is a great way of researching your audience, your market in relation to the idea of the thing that you want to sell.

Before we wrap up, I have spoken to more than one person, coming on board as a client who tells me that they have done a lot of market research, but on close to the investigation, the people they are asking questions to are people who have already worked with them and come out the other side of the program. They are people who have already experienced the transformation. Now, it is of course valuable and very worthwhile speaking to those people for feedback. However, they are going to describe a different set of problems and challenges when they are on the other side of the transformation that you helped to facilitate, then they would have at the point at which they signed up with you, signed up to become a client, right? In other words, hindsight is 20/20. Even if I think I remember very, very well what I was experiencing before I joined your program, the chances are very, very low that I will describe it in the same way because I’m a different person than I was four weeks ago, six weeks ago, 90 days ago, how, however long the program is. So when you are doing market research for the purposes of selling something new or for the purposes of your marketing, please make sure that you’re speaking to people who have not, who are not your clients yet, right? Definitely speak to your clients at the end of the program. Get that feedback. That’s consumer research. It’s very valuable. It’s very important, but it is not the same. You’re not going to get the same answers as you would from people who you have not worked with yet, okay?

So let me summarize. We talked about competitor analysis and just having a look at what other people in your industry are doing. We talked about social media listening and strolling your feed as a creator rather than as a consumer. We talked about some easy ways that you can get insights from larger groups. So straightforward polls, stickers, asking questions, questionnaires, and incentivizing people to complete them. We talked about win-win call on one-to-one. That’s a really straightforward market research call where you just ask people pertinent questions and listen. We talked about the DM conversation with, I would describe them as hot leads, where you literally ask them to design the solution to the problem that they’re having. And we talked about the importance of validating your ideas in the market before you sell them. There’s a whole other class on validation, so go and watch that if you haven’t already. Scout implementing these methods today. Even small-scale market research can lead to significant changes in your messaging and significant improvements in your strategies and results. You can spot the gaps in the market. And what could you discover today that could transform your results tomorrow? Have a look at the workbook, ask questions on the group, and I will see you next time.