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By Jan Johnson, Chief Product Liberator, Landmark Performance Group
I was having a casual conversation with a colleague the other day and he mentioned that they had just been shown the results of a not- inexpensive market research study and he was like, “Meh. I’m not really sure we learned anything.”

Now according to statistics I’ve seen, 60% of corporate market research is commissioned to reinforce someone’s desire to be right.

But what about the remaining 40% of the time you actually want to get insights, discoveries and new information?

Eliminating Garbage, Collecting Gems Here are five tactical steps to get the information you need without the tedium associated with market research. (I personally can’t believe anybody would not enjoy properly administered market research because of its ability to guide the way so quickly and precisely.)

1. Think about qualitative-only research—sure your sample sizes are small and you haven’t interviewed everyone in the universe, but great qualitative is like a great trail scout—go this way, there’s treasure (or danger) up head. Recently I was investigating why sales were down in a particular territory. It only took asking five customers, “so how often do you see your sales rep?” to learn something. “I see him once a year,” was a common answer.

2. Throw some quantitative questions into the mix.—Sure your sample size is limited, but it really revealing to know if people would rate your product a 3 instead of a 5. “In the above instance, I asked people, on a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your dealer?” When the respondent says “4,” you know there is room for improvement.

3. Really, really understand what you want to know.—Too many people commission market research without ever really thinking about what they want in the end, and so they get what they asked for…vague, unspecific results that sort of verify their thinking, but really don’t clarify anything.

4. Talk with five people who matter instead of 250 people who don’t. You’re looking for the aha moment, not 250 repetitions of the same basic answer.

5. Work with an expert in your field. An expert knows the path and can provide a perspective on what to ask and when to ask it. Amateurs ask 20 questions and will get you “meh.” A seasoned expert can ask one question and get you all the answers you need to make great decisions.

Getting ROI That You’ll Want on Your Resume
Today’s companies are all about getting maximum return on investment. Build the business case, and then deliver. We help product and marketing managers do just that. Recently, we worked with a company in a business segment that is quickly becoming a commodity. Customers are looking for the best “deal” because they don’t see much difference between the handful of suppliers out there.

After talking with eight of the largest customers in the industry, I recommended my client become a preferred supplier by educating their customers and their employees. It wasn’t a matter of selling product at cut rates, it was about adding value through education that would allow customers to experience more success.

After a year of putting this program into place, the company reported sales increases of 4% and profit increases of 13%.

At Landmark Performance Group, we cut through the crap to get to the features that are really important to the success of your products. The result is products that exceed the expectations of your potential customers, turning them into easy sales.

Our proprietary system shows your product potential and how to get there. Fast, focused and designed for success.

When you want to make sure every feature adds value, let’s talk.

Jan Johnson is Chief Product Liberator at Landmark Performance Group, Minneapolis, MN. She has more than 20 years of experience rescuing failing or underperforming products in brutal marketplaces.