Monday, July 25, 2011

How to Use Research to Discover Your Value to Customers

In a recent article over at Marketing Experiments, Daniel Burstein makes the distinction between discovering the value that you give to your customers and dictating that value.  In this particular article, he goes into how to use social media to get at that value.  But I'd like to explore other methods as well.

Use Nimble to focus social media conversations.  A few weeks ago, I was introduced to Nimble; a new social CRM (Customer Relationship Management ) tool developed Jon Ferrara, the creator of Goldmine.  He realized that relationships were starting as social media conversations but were really falling through the cracks as people struggled to manage them via traditional tools.  The concept is simple.  Nimble integrates your email with your social media accounts and then allows you to link those virtual connections with tasks and projects.  In the future, the idea is to run your whole sales and marketing communications from one screen.  Definitely something worth exploring.

I mentioned Nimble because it's a tool that brings conversations together in a way that will allow you to see patterns and actually have conversations about the value that you bring.  This isn't an activity that you would outsource to a market research firm, it's an activity for your sales, marketing or executive groups.  But it's information that will save you market research money and allow you to focus your research on better quantifying and defining this value.

Drive customers to crowd sourcing.  A couple of years ago, crowd sourcing was a trendy topic.  Everyone was talking about it and trying it.  But now, it doesn't seem to be as much a part of the research conversation.  Just because some other shiny new object might have taken it's place in the conversation, doesn't make it less valuable as a tool.  Tools like IdeaScale are still an excellent resource for companies who don't have BIG "chatworthy" brands on social media.

Your customers and potential customers aren't going to magically find your crowd sourcing space, you will have to send them there and remind them that it's there.  You will have to make it part of your conversation and have that web site listed prominently everywhere.  Crowd sourcing will only help you define value if you use it.

Customer research panels.  This is probably the shiny new trend of the market research world.  And when you pair this up with mobile market research, you've got yourself one of the most popular topics in research today.  This is another way to collect and listen to what your customers value without necessarily using social media tools.

Survey Analytics' SurveySwipe application takes your customer research panel mobile and this gives companies advantages besides the obvious one of reaching customers where they are.  It gives you the advantage of better quality responses because their the technology of the mobile phone allows for location-based functions that can trigger surveys as close to the customer response as possible.

At a time when doing market research was a proposition far beyond the small business budget, it was understandable why so many of us were simply deciding on the value that we offered and telling our customer about it.

Believe it or not, THAT is the more expensive option today.  Use the new tools that are available to really engage and talk to your customers about the ways in which they experience your product, then promote that value to other customers who match their profile.

This is not only a sound strategy, but one that will pay off in profitability and customer satisfaction.
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