Don’t Survey

I have talked clients out of broad market research studies.

Doing so doesn’t help my bottom line.

We at Silicon Strategies Marketing do quite a bit of market research work, both qualitative and quantitative. Surveys have become one of my favorite projects because divining numerical answers from complex situations engages my inner geek. Our clients have a tendency to want to know everything today. They envision surveying their broad markets with dense surveys that measure everything, right down to if respondents were or were not bottle babies.

I talk nearly every one of them out of this.

Your market is divided into segments, for which there are a small handful of magical requirements. Yet all segments are not created equal – some are more interesting and profitable than others. After developing your segmentation model, your next step is to scorecard potential segments and quickly decide which are most viable– for there is no use attacking segments for which your product doesn’t fit, there are too few customers or the competition is too great. Your remaining target segments are where you should focus your greatest energies.

Which includes market research and surveying.

Hypothesize for a moment that 40% of your addressable market are segments for which you have good opportunity. The other 60% is either unprofitable, highly competitive or very ill defined. If you studied in detail the entire market, you would be guided to making decisions that degraded your profits and market penetration by 60%. If you deeply studied the remaining 40%, you would design more perfect whole products, dominate those segments, and have higher margins by not wasting marketing spend.

And who doesn’t like highly profitable market dominance.

The lesson herein is that who you survey is as important as what you ask. Surveying those people that make you rich and famous is better than surveying everyone. Segmenting precedes deep market research and keeps me from making more money (which sounds like poor marketing on my part, but not leading you astray is part of my value proposition).


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