The results from our market research will help us flesh out our marketing avatar and help us pinpoint who our target prospects are, where they are, what they need to buy, and what we are going to sell and cross-sell them.
The best way to start is to remove every previous idea you’ve had about your current customers and prospects. It won’t be easy! But beginning as though you have no idea who these people are and what makes them tick will help you in the long run.
The first step will be to get with some “experts” in your company.
These experts are people right now that work directly with your current customers and prospects. They will have a good knowledge of the problems your market is facing and why your solution is or will be theirs.
This will be the key to helping us strategize an interview plan where we will go face-to-face with our customers and prospects to find out exactly:
- The needs and problems of our target market,
- How educated and informed they are on the solutions for their problems,
- What their decision-making processes are and who helps them along the way,
- And how competitive our market really is.
Because when it comes down to it, those IN our market ARE our true experts. They may not know their exact fears and motivators (nor may they want to share their real emotional reasons for buying…if they even know themselves), but they are the people who have gone through your sales process, or are currently going through it, and can give you the best, most constructive feedback.
Planning the Interview Process
So let’s begin with planning out our expert interviews. Let’s look at some high-level decisions we’ll need to make before we dig in to the order and purpose of the set of questions we’ll be asking our experts.
First, define the goal of these interviews.
Defining and stating the goal of these interviews isn’t just a formality, it’s to help keep everyone focused on the task at hand while both planning and presenting the interview. It’s also very helpful to have it spelled out just in case you are not the one actually doing the interviewing. Having a one or two sentence overview statement can give your interviewer the guidance they need to keep the interview going in the right direction.
Second, we need to know who we are going to interview.
Once we’ve determined which exact customers we want to profile, we can use that profiling to locate some prospects to interview as well.
At a bare minimum, we recommend you come up with a list of at least 5 potential people from each group… more is better. Because not every one of them will agree to an interview, and you don’t want to end up with too few when it’s time to start analyzing and looking for trends in their answers. Depending on the amount of time you have delegated for these interviews and the depth to which you interview, the actual number of interviews you do per Customer and Prospect group is up to you. As a Portland SEO Firm, we use these methods to do online interviews.
Which methods will we use to interview them?
- Face-to-face interviews are by far the best in order to gather the most information. For obvious reasons, conducting an interview in person gives you the most amount of information. Not only will you get answers to your questions, but you can also read their body language and catch the subtle body language that can give you greater insight to the real emotions behind their answer.Unfortunately, these types of interviews can be the most difficult and expensive to coordinate, especially if your interviewee is located outside of your location. Depending on the importance of the interview, it’s always best to weigh all the options when planning things out.
- Technology has made it possible to do useful and time-saving tasks, including interviews. If a face-to-face interview is not possible or economical, then you could conduct web conferences, where you sit in the comfort of your office or home, and they do the same. The internet, your computers and web cameras connect the two of you and you can simulate a face-to-face meeting, all the while both are within their comfort zones. There are several tools are available to use, both paid and free.One of the easiest, and cheapest, would be Google Hangouts…all you need is a webcam, mic, and a gmail account. This method can work very well.An added benefit to this web interview is that the technology exists where you can record them remotely, without them having to have a camera man pointing a camera and hanging a big microphone in front of them. In fact, with this technology, you could easily ask if you could record the in-person interview without much more than sitting near your computer and turning your web camera towards them before the interview gets going.But, depending on your target market, that level of technology may not be a viable option. Perhaps they are located in remote areas with little to no internet. Perhaps their user-level of web applications and video cameras etc., is not optimal for a comfortable interview process. The method you choose needs to take into consideration their level of comfort during the interview. You definitely don’t want to stress them out more than they probably already are!Interviews, even those as innocent as fact-finding, can be very unnerving to many people. It’s our job to try to make them as relaxed as possible before, during, and after the interview. Some, especially prospects, might be guarded because they feel they are about to receive a sales pitch. The sooner we can make them comfortable and relaxed, the more they will open up to us.
- The telephone is always a tried and true interview method. This has gone on for years and will continue to do so. It is also easy to use, cost effective, and relatively easy to schedule. We suggest recording the call, with your participant’s permission of course, so that you can refer back to it at any time during this process.
- Another method is to interview via email. Though it is not as personal as the previous three methods, it does give your interviewee more time to consider and respond to your questions. You may be able to get more thoughtful, deeper answers than you could when they are responding on the spot in person or via the internet or phone. The time factor, however, may be inconvenient for you. Some people may not respond quickly, they may not respond to every question, or you may need to ask them to elaborate or explain one or more of their answers. Depending on your time frame, this may or may not be a viable option.
- And finally, direct mail is one option if all of the others are not applicable. We don’t recommend this method, however, mainly because you are not in control of anything during the interview process. You don’t have control over who in the household or office completes the interview, you don’t even know if they are qualified to answer the questions. They may not answer all the questions, and then even if they do, they may not mail it back to you. So, though this is an option, it definitely should not be your first choice for your interview method.
In Part 4 of this Market Research Series, we’ll dive into exactly how we will document and use the answers to these interviews. But first, make sure you get your free website audit!