Taking a Lean Approach to Market Research

New businesses need customers and sales as soon as possible. With proper market research, you can spot business opportunities, lower your business risks, identify where to advertise, outsell your competitors, set better goals, and make more informed decisions to give you a great start on your new venture. Without quality research, it’s impossible to understand your customers. You may have a general idea of who your target market is and what they are looking for, but you need to dig deeper if you want to win their loyalty. 

How you plan the market research process plays a key role in determining the right steps to take. One simple but effective solution is taking a lean approach to market research to understanding customer needs. Here are four lean steps to give you a solid understanding of your customers and what they want from you.

Create Simple Customer Personas

To get started, you need to create specific customer personas based on demographic and psychographic data from people who use similar products or services like yours. Check the websites they visit too. The easiest way to get this data is by using on-page or emailed surveys and interviews that help you understand your potential customers. Remember that whatever survey questions you ask, they should answer specific questions about the customer, such as:

  • Who they are
  • What their main goals are
  • What their main barriers are to achieving those goals

Whether you conduct mobile or tablet surveys, the most important thing is to avoid asking too many questions and sticking to what’s related to your products/services and the customer’s goals. This way, you only get the most important data you need for your market research. 

Conduct Observational Research

Observational research is an incredibly powerful tool when it’s done right. It involves taking notes while watching someone use your products or service offerings. One aspect involves asking users if they’re comfortable with you watching them use your products. The other involves observing users without them knowing (for products that people use more regularly).

With this lean approach, you’ll want to record each entry along with the time it occurred and take note of each customer’s or user’s workflow – the what, why, and for whom. While doing observational research, don’t record any audio or video regardless of your research method. Don’t forget to explain why you want to observe them. For example, you may ask them to participate with the goal of improving your products

Conduct One-on-One Interviews

Conducting one-on-one interviews with your target market allows you to dig deeper and explore any concerns your customers may have. When conducting these interviews, you’ll want to take on a journalistic role, rather than one of a salesperson. Instead of selling your company and what you offer, ask your target market about their daily lives, needs, frustrations, and how a product like yours could help. 

Here are a few more tips:

  • Practice listening more and talking less 
  • Ask “why?” and be curious to learn more
  • Get into the specifics of their feedback and learn about their past decisions
  • Consider recording the conversation, so you don’t need to take notes and can focus on the interview
  • Learn to make adjustments on the fly to see what works

Analyze the Most Critical Data

With the right data in your hands, it’s time to analyze it. Remember that the ultimate goal of lean market research is to get quick, actionable insights. There are different approaches to this:

  • Create a simple visual representation of how potential customers interact with your products and each other to better assess their varying needs. This way, you can quickly identify the challenges they face and develop a way to solve those problems. 
  • Sort the data you’ve collected into groups to understand the bigger picture. Your target audience will not have the same needs and wants, so you need to sort each of them and understand what they need and expect from a company like yours.
  • Create a customer journey map to understand how prospects become paying customers. This will help you outline the first interactions with your brand, from awareness to engagement, as well as every step in the sales cycle. 

Leverage Lean Market Research for Positive Results

Taking a lean approach to market research will help you dig below the surface, have a better understanding of your customers, build a better user experience, and develop better products. Go ahead and implement these four steps to achieve positive results.  

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