Market Research sucks, but it doesn't have to be
Updated: Feb 27
Data is everywhere, in fact your brand probably already has the exact data points you need, you just haven't utilized them effectively enough.
David Ogilvy once said: "Advertising people who ignore research are as dangerous as generals who ignore decodes of enemy signals." There's a lot of truth in that statement, because as humans we tend to conflate data with our own personal biases or preferences, be it for the primary colour of their brand, or the story they choose to push to the customers.
Market Research is not an inherently complicated task, sometimes a simple conversation with your customers or customer groups would suffice. But talking to them in person, or in today's age via a Zoom call definitely does help. As a business you would like to be the Steve Jobs in your industry, creating innovative products that change lives, and being visionary by knowing exactly what your customers want, before they even do. While that all sounds good, the reality is that your customers are probably not looking for a dynamically different product, they already like your product and need small tweaks here and there that make their life easier. SaaS brands spend a lot of time in product development, and ever so often, its the mistake of the product manager who assumes too much, when all he needs to do is speak with a few of his/her customers. Talking to your customers not only give your brand the personal human touch, it shows that you are invested in their happiness and that you are willing to take the time off talk to them one on one. It also allows you to truly know your customer, and these customers will be more open to feedback in the future, and will definitely be your most vocal advocators.
Focus on your strengths
Don't be afraid to be uncool. You don't need to be the Accounting Software for the Top 10 Companies in the world, or the Project Management Software of the Wipro's and Infosys's of the world. You can serve the other 99% of the market, and add features as you grow to add various different consumer groups to your umbrella. Atlassian Corporation is a perfect example. The Sydney Morning Herald referred to Atlassian in one of their headlines as “the $30 billion tech giant no one understands”. And there in lies the beauty. The idea behind what Atlassian does is so businesses don’t have to think about what they do, and instead focus on growing their businesses.
Imagine these guys took on a $10,000 debt to found their company, and today are worth $26.6 billion. Even now Atlassian only spent 19% of revenue on sales and marketing, far less than similarly placed tech companies. Be an Atlassian, in a sea of Salesforce giants, and conquer your own little corner of the world.
Ask the right questions
If you're getting started in a particular industry, don't be afraid to speak to people working in that industry, experts or not. Solving an industry's pain-points, is what leads to some of the best SaaS products in the market today. Look at Editor X, once considered an amatuerish product for website development, developers made fun of it and didn't take it seriously. I know I did. Until I used it, and now I'm it's biggest advocator. A web design product made for designers, with a similar workflow to using Photoshop or any design tool, with Layers, that can create quality websites across all viewports. Phew, that's a mouthful, but it works as advertised and we have created some beautiful Editor X websites, including this particular one.
Another way to do effective market research, is to look at review sites. You can see what people are saying about various products, and that's just brilliant. A scouting tool, that allows you to have visibility into your competitors, gain significant market research data. Subreddits, forums, youtube comments, amazon book reviews, Facebook groups, don't be afraid to go deep, and to read the comments to accurately identify pain points of various competitors.
And finally, sign up for your competitor's products and make note of key questions:
What's their response time?
Once you sign up, what's their flow?
Is it an email or do they call you?
What do their emails look like?
How often do they send emails?
Are you signing up and not getting a welcome email?
Are you signing and getting a phone within 10 seconds?
This level of depth, allows you to build a competitor map, and truly understand what's going on in the industry. Not only that you understand the psychology of your competitors and see how effectively they operate.
This gives you tremendous value. It might cost a bit of money, in terms of staff resources, etc, but the ROI on this will be self evident, very soon.