Ridiculous Research

An ancient joke has a child looking into a telescope and saying “Daddy, the universe is a very small place” to which the patient father replies “You are looking through the wrong end.” Oddly, this describes the effect of misguided market research. The twin goals of market research are to identify missions to take, then how to accomplish those missions. The mission may be to reduce cost, grow revenues, expand market share. But unless you know what mission you need the take, you can never know what research you need in order to accomplish that mission. This recently came to light when the good folks at Zintro asked me to participate on a panel where selected experts explain the most common mistakes in market research. Of the two mistakes I cited, not understanding the problem to be solved was a primary ill. Some companies have offered Silicon Strategies good money … Continue reading

Research Perspective

America ranks near the bottom of the list for violent crimes in industrialized countries. This is not the perspective most people have (though some clever folks at an overseas justice ministry discovered this with some groundbreaking multinational research). Thanks to the news media and some serious inner-city problems, Americans and the rest of the world views the U.S. as a deadly place, despite violent crime rates dropping precipitously over the past few decades. Perception can be distorting. A lot of companies have inaccurate perceptions of themselves, and this leads to inaccurate research. I was polled by Zintro on the most common mistakes clients make in market research. Biased perspective was my top choice for research wrecking errors. If one asks the wrong question, the answer is typically meaningless. If one has an improper perspective, they tend to ask the wrong question. Hence if an executive is viewing his market, his … Continue reading

Question Yourself

Take your market research seriously … unless you didn’t take it seriously from the beginning. It is relatively easy to screw-up market research because there are many ways to do so. The most careful of statistical validation calculations are meaningless if you asked New Guinea tribesmen their first class cabin cocktail preferences. The heart of research (market and marketing research included) is knowing what you need to learn, learning it correctly, then applying it appropriately. That last one can be tough for start-ups when visionary founders resent market researchers telling them that their baby is ugly. There is no way to exhaust the list of methods for creating lousy research, but some of my favorites include: Not having a business purpose behind the research My first question to executives looking for primary market research is … Continue reading

Complex Collapse

Bank of America really doesn’t want to make money. Well, that’s not true, but their technology seems to be designed to chase customers away. I say this after having sent error pages and bug reports to several people in the BofA mortgage division. During a second attempt at refinancing an investment property (the first attempt bombed due to internal, human process malfunctions at BofA) I was stopped by their technology for sending me email. Yes, email. BofA has implemented a byzantine email apparatus, seemingly invented by Rube Goldberg, for sending messages to loan applicants. The system: … Continue reading

Coaxing Channels


I love complex markets that require collaboration with strategic partners, industry groups and channels. It is an exotic form of auto-masochism. Marketing requires appealing to byer motivations. But you are often not the only, or even the primary person delivering the marketing message. Intermediaries may deal more directly with end buyers than you. Yet for the buyer to receive a consistent message, perceive a consistent brand or believe a consistent value proposition, these outside organizations have to carry your message, value props and brand identities. Not being your employees, they have to be coaxed with something other than the possibility of instant unemployment. Intermediaries can either be … Continue reading

Needy Wants

Giving a customer what they want can be a bad thing. Long ago, I was on both the product management and product marketing side of some new technology. We had a few early adopter customers. One in particular was very engaged, right down to near daily communing with our software architect. Like all customers, he had a wish list of features and functions he wanted the product to sprout. Unlike most customers, he had money to spend. I had to turn down a lot of his feature requests, sponsored or not. There is a difference between what customers want and what they need. There is even a difference between what one customer needs and what every customer needs. Creating products based on wants becomes a stress-inducing cycle of unicorn hunting that never works. While trying desperately to create the perfect product for one or two customers, typically for the sake … Continue reading

Simply Stupid

B2B tech buyers are not stupid, so don't over simplify your messaging

Complexity creates friction, which if you are lucky, only drags out the sales cycle. More often than not, it kills sales. In B2B technology marketing, many solutions are complex and loaded with customer risk. The more complex the solution, the more friction is built into the sales process. Marketing’s primary job is to reduce friction, which means reducing complexity. Simplifying – distilling complex topics into focused value propositions and content – is the first order of business. Just don’t over simplify, especially for the wrong person. B2B technology sales typically involve several buyer personae (genotypes) that have different friction-generating concerns. Simplifying all content and applying it to every audience creates more friction, not less, because every genotype is left uninformed. Creating one piece of content for the CIO, CTO, server administrator, developer and third shift operator will educate none of them Likewise, even if content targets only one genotype, over-simplifying … Continue reading