It’s an old cliché, but if we stand still in business, we tend to go backwards! So the pressure is always on to be renewing, refreshing or developing new products or services for our target markets. This is where I think many businesses really struggle and part of the reason is that they may not have consulted with their customer base as often as is necessary when times were better.
Our customers often know more about us than we know ourselves – and why shouldn’t they? They are the ones that road test our products day in and day out and can often give us the best insights into how we might introduce version two, or bring in a new product or service to cover off another area of their business as it evolves to serve their customers.
My experience of primary market research with the existing customer base of Corve Consultancy’s clients is very positive. It adds value and even though sometimes it can be an excuse for some to let off steam, understanding what we do badly as well as what we do well, is critical for the development of robust business strategy.
Drawing together appropriate focus groups to help us when we are building new offerings is also an underused activity. I think focus groups got a bad press in the early days of New Labour and the mention of them tends to make lips curl a little. But in the new product / service development process, informed feedback is crucial.