In my previous post I emphasized the need to know your customer before initiating promotional efforts. Let’s assume you have a foundation of customer insights in the business plan. Or, at the very least, tidbits that are collected in the early stages of the product development.
Now you need to develop a full-length picture of your customer. There are a number of ways to uncover key aspects about your customer. The most useful information comes directly from them.
I’m a big proponent of primary research. There are some very good research agencies available, budget pending. I’ll share some of my preferred agencies later. To make the best use of your resources, gather information about the basic profile of your customer first with lower cost tools and in-house elbow grease.
Start with simple surveys.
Two great resources are Zoomerang and Survey Monkey. Both sites have tutorials, samples and process instructions to help you. Need a model to craft your questions, try @researchinfo.com for sample surveys with a focused audience. Now all you need is a list of names to send it to. A quick internet search will provide a number of list brokers to choose from. Keep in mind that this outbound approach may not yield high returns.
The Home Page.
A better approach is to post the survey on your product or company website or social media content page. Less intrusive as the customer comes to you, however, you may gather responses from customers that aren’t in your target audience.
Need larger numbers of respondents and more questions answered? It is time to seek out services that have developed opt-in panels of clinicians who have agreed to participate in research. Three that come to mind are Sermo, Medometry and Epocrates. The benefits of using the research services of these types of businesses include large self-profiled highly targeted participants, trusted platform, easy implementation of the survey and quality reports from the collected data.
Great resources with good insights can be found already published. Tap into Slideshare, Hubspot and wesrch. Search the directories of Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality – AHRQ, American Medical Association – AMA, World Health Organization – WHO and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – CDC. Don’t forget the subspecialty association websites. Published findings are available at these sites for little, if any cost.
Shades of distinction.
Now that you have a good foundation of information that describes your customer, don’t let it languish. Update your knowledge base annually, yes, that often. As you acquire more customers and maintain customers longer, continue to learn about them. Don’t assume you know them because of an association with your company. Challenge the thinking that defines your customer. With a strong understanding of the central core of your customer base, understanding nuances and distinctions may be needed to increase business among some segments. Consider exploring areas not well understood with experts who know how to mine for those subtleties. A couple of my preferred research agencies are Motivation Mechanics , the Kern Mueller Group and Kaplan Research.
Portrait or thumbnail?
Continued learning about the customer provides the best means by which to serve the customer. You can never know enough about your customers. Working from a thumbnail image will limit your effectiveness in maintaining your relationship. Go for the portrait, it is much more telling.
Have some other suggestions of gathering information or great research sources – tell us here!
(C) 2012 pH Consulting. All rights reserved.