Monday, May 23, 2011

Forget Surveys

I am not a proponent of market research. I believe it has three weaknesses:

- People don't know what they like. No one understands themselves, why
  they make certain choices, or what they prefer.
- People don't respond genuinely. To use an example of class evaluations,
  students in my classes don't respond in useful ways. Outliers on both
  ends give feedback about me that "he is the worst teacher in the
  department," and "he is the greatest teacher ever." I receive more positive
  feedback about my wonderful hair than about information about how to
  improve the class. People have different ways of communicating, different
  agendas, and some are are suspicious of surveys.
- People don't understand unless they have a prototype in hand and have
  opportunity to use it in real life. So they need to experience your product
  or service, then decide if they like it. They need to test that new gold club
  by swinging it. They need to eat the food at the restaurant,

Observing people choosing your product from others on the shelf and then using your product--when they think they are not being observed--gives you information you can use.

Start the business, then learn and muddle through until you figure out how to make the business successful, even if success means significantly changing the business. Market research is often a method of procrastinating. 

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