“Marriage of Gravity”

Twice a week, almost like clockwork, I head to the dojo to continue working toward my black belt in Kenpo Karate. I probably have at least another year and a half before I’m ready, but I diligently keep learning new self-defense techniques and forms, working on perfecting my strikes and kicks.

As a bit of background, Kenpo is a system of self-defense based on logic and the scientific study of movement.  By studying motion in all its nuances, Kenpo provides both maximum efficiency (no wasted time, movements, or energy) and maximum effectiveness (speed, power, focus).

The concepts of efficiency and effectiveness easily translate from the martial arts to the business world. Less waste and greater focus are mantras that organizations have embraced, especially when the economy is contracting. In order to be more efficient, learning more about your business and customers should be top of mind. The more you understand and connect with your customers, the more effective your marketing message will be.

You can also apply Kenpo concepts to market research. Take the “marriage of gravity” principal, for example. Marriage of gravity simply states I’m going to use gravity’s force–which is keeping me held to the earth–to increase the power of my vertical strikes. Thus, when I do a downward strike, I make sure my entire body settles down along with my fist or elbow. This is especially useful for folks like me who are rather petite…we need all the power we can get. You as a business owner need as much power behind your marketing as well. Market research will give you that power.

With respect to market research, your ‘marriage of gravity’ force would be how much you know your customers. You know what’s important to them and, hopefully why they purchase your company’s products and services. Using this knowledge will make your research–whether it’s a post-purchase survey, a focus group, a forum poll–more effective and engaging thereby making them more ‘powerful’.

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Customer Connections

I went to a local small-business owners meeting last week and was so impressed by the variety of products, services, and wealth of knowledge and experience everyone brought to the ‘table’. We all shared our struggles with social media and how to incorporate the best method for staying connected to our customers into our marketing ‘toolkits’.

Not surprising, each of these super-smart business owners knew their target markets well, and the steps needed to attract and retain customers.

But, the most interesting thing to me, in my business, is that they didn’t really understand the practical applications of market research for their businesses. Fascinating that we in market research are so sure that everyone inherently understands how to leverage research…guess I was wrong.

This got me thinking about some specific research ideas for a couple of the businesses:

  1. Green Lake Kids Dentistry can have patients rate their visits–using a scale of Awesome to Icky, or for kids who can’t read :) to :(. Also having the kids offer up suggestions for improving their experience might result in some great ideas (bubble-gum flavored dental floss anyone?) that Dr. Hull could use in his practice.
  2. Satsuma Designs could have small focus groups to test out her new baby product ideas before launching into full production.
  3. Furlesse could survey beauty product distributors to gather data about pricing, level of interest in her very unique product, and what it would take for them to add it to their product portfolios.
  4. Whether Nan Brotherton Photography’s customers would highly recommend her to other families for their portrait needs could be determined in a very short on-line survey sent to her email customer list.

Small businesses can use research to effectively stay connected to their existing customers, while making smart decisions about attracting new ones.

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How I Spent My Summer Vacation

I keep thinking my first post should be something erudite about market research and how it can make companies more strategic…

But, after spending much of my summer designing and coding my new web site in WordPress, I feel that experience deserves some discussion. And, of course, there is some tie-in to my market research business…otherwise would it really belong in my company blog?

Learning WordPress has been one of the more satisfying and humbling experiences of my career to date. And, by no means, am I an expert in WP….far, far from it.

And, I’m no great expert at statistics either.

So, what have I learned from the experience that can apply to both web sites and market research?

  1. “Secondary research”: Learn from others who have been there before, see what information is out there that you can apply to your own business, and finally, see where the holes are that you need to fill in and customize for your business. I looked a lots of other web sites to see what I thought worked and didn’t work as well as different platforms/themes I could choose as a basis for my site.
  2. Read, read, read: I picked up a couple of books on WordPress and web site design which have been great reference. In addition, the WP Codex and support forum have been invaluable for both basic information, as well as solving issues that have cropped up. As for market research, I own a few handy, dandy reference books on the general topic, statistics and, of course, Michael Porter’s marketing books. In addition, if you look to the right on this page, there are links to some of the cool blogs out there–both market research and business related that I like to read.
  3. 80% is OK: Is my site done? Not yet–I’m still having trouble figuring out how to change a font, but rather than hold up the site for who knows how many days debugging it, we’ll let it go…for now. Same idea with your market research. It’s ok to get 80% of the information you need to make a smart decision because you can’t always anticipate every possible thing you want to ask your customers. Save it for your next survey, focus group, or conversation with your customers. But, never ever cut corners on your data integrity–that’s one area where 80% is not good enough.

And, of course, remember what you are trying to accomplish–whether it be a new, social-media friendly web site, or a survey about your new product offering–you will get there in the end.

All in all, not a bad way to spend my summer.

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