You may think you have an award winning idea for a new product or service … but before you commit everything to it you had better find out!
And it’s no good just trying it out informally on family and friends.
chances are they won’t have the right background or experience to make a professional judgment, and they may just tell you what you want to hear.
Knowing what your customers want and what they will want in the future is crucial. Define your customers carefully. What sort of people are they? Where do they live? How do they live their lives? How will they buy whatever it is that you want to supply them with?
First, do some ‘desk research’.
This is largely an information gathering process – getting ideas about the size of your market, trends in it, whether or not it’s growing and about your competitors. You can find this information in business and trend reports, government departments and trade organisations. The British Library Business & IP Centre is an excellent place to start and one of the team there should be able to point you in the direction of a multitude of sources of very useful statistical information.
Armed with this vital information you are ready to devise a way of communicating with potential customers to find out more, ‘field research’.
It could be a questionnaire that you mail or a series of meetings where you conduct interviews with selected potential customers, a telephone survey or a focus group. Most likely you’ll want to use a combination of formats.
Remember, your venture will get off to a shaky start if you don’t have answers to the fundamental questions about your products, your market and your customers.
For instance, what will your product or service replace? It may be a competitor’s offer, but it might not be. Even in situations where there is ‘no competition’ (very rarely the case!) remember that if your customer chooses to spend their hard earned money with you they are choosing not to spend it with someone else.
Think like your customer. They are the key to all this. Don’t get preoccupied by the product or service you are planning. Do be obsessed by the experience your customers will have if it. What difference will your product make to their lives?
You must find out – there is no marketing department to blame if you get it wrong!