Market research, and by association survey research in general, was not designed to be a random fishing trip. This is not to say that randomness isn’t important to our cause, but is not the key driver if you will. Yet, it seems as if so many projects occur at the whim of a CMO who may or may not know the major issues facing them. There is a reason for this. Decision makers, in general, see approximately 10% of the true problem, according to the the iceberg principle. This leaves 90% of the problem below the surface. Guess where market researchers live?
If we are to be successful at providing timely and relevant information useful for solving true problems then we need to put on our scuba gear and get beneath the surface. For example your Marketing or Sales VP may see:
- Unhappy customers
- Decreased market share
- Loss of sales
- Low website traffic
As a B2B market researcher I know these are the obvious measurable symptoms. Evidence of them shows up in weekly tracking reports, customer service chat logs and marketing dashboards. If we put our focus on the symptoms then we ignore the disease and the problem continues.
Our focus must lie beneath the surface. Here we will find the true nature of the problem. What we will see beneath the surface are the real problems including:
- Marginal performing sales force
- Employee attrition in sales and customer service
- Low-quality products
- Poor brand image
- Messaging inappropriate for the audience
If we omit the problems below the waterline then we will be providing clients information that will lead to less than optimal decisions. The starting point is a deep breath followed by pursuit of a problem definition that goes beyond the visual symptoms.
Written by Greg Timpany