Why Telephone-based Market Research is So Important
Why Telephone-based Market Research is So Important to New – or Almost New – Technologies
by Suzan Ziobro, BSc Hons Economics (Wharton), MBA with Distinction (INSEAD)
One of the most common misperceptions about the high tech sector is that a product has to be completely new or superior in every way in order to be successful. However, history has shown this clearly is not always the case. Plenty of “inferior” (or, shall we say to be diplomatic, less superior) products have been massively successful because they were priced, packaged and sold in a way that met customer needs, thus delivering both satisfaction and performance. It’s also quite possible that previous, better products had to do the job of educating the market first and simply couldn’t get enough traction before the sales and marketing budget ran out. Being a follower – or a “me too” product, with benefits – can have its advantages.
The nature of marketing technology in a new category or use case is also widely misunderstood. Because something is new, companies may take a generic approach to introducing the product to the market, hoping that the right customers will miraculously appear from somewhere to buy it. Their plan is to wait for these technology-loving customers, and then follow them, but this can be a risky and expensive approach.
The best way to market a new technology is on a very focused, targeted basis. However, to do this you need to know who you are aiming for – and to know that, you need to carry out market research. What surprises a lot of my students is that you often can’t find this research online for free or indeed even buy such research “off the shelf”. Almost by definition, because you are launching a new proposition, you will not find what you want readily available. So you will have to do the ground work yourself.
In brief, you will have to use the phone. Contacting people you have never met is daunting, and can make the most hardened executive go weak at the knees. However, if you are not willing to engage directly with your target customers then you shouldn’t be in business.
The truth is that your target customers will almost always tell you what you need to know. The problem is that a lot of people don’t ask them. Too often they hide behind unanswered emails, and so remain in the dark.
Want to discuss this topic further? Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn and I’d be happy to meet for an informal chat anytime.
I am a mentor on the Emerging Technologies course (otherwise known as ETECH) at the Cambridge Judge Business School. The purpose of this course is to empower science and engineering graduates to translate their intellectual property into viable business propositions. I also mentor aspiring entrepreneurs pursuing their Post Graduate Diploma in Entrepreneurship at The Centre for Entrepreneurship at the Judge. In addition to my day-to day work as an interim in B2B marketing, lead generation and business development, mentoring gives me the opportunity to see how individuals and companies approach the challenge of launching new technologies and “game changing” innovation in products and services.