How do you obtain customer input?

Occasionally, we get calls from potential clients who value customer input, but are unsure how to obtain it.

Maybe you can relate.

“We want to conduct research” is their request. We follow up with probing questions to understand their needs better: To whom do you want to talk, and for what purpose?

Using the insight principle of upstream marketing assists you in finetuning your customers’ needs.

The Insight Principle Demands Deep Understanding

The insight principle of upstream marketing requires you to gain internal clarity and deep customer understanding, which can be done best by looking closer and thinking deeper about customer needs.

There are a variety of ways to uncover insight. The method used should flow from the questions you want answers to – whether formally, through market research – or informally, by immersing yourself in the customer experience.

Also, different research techniques are useful at different times. The optimal flow moves from broad to narrow, alternating between qualitative and quantitative methods. This approach allows for analysis (breaking down) and synthesis (building up) to increase certainty and improve strategic decision-making.

2 Types of Customer Insight to Know About

Two broad types of customer insight are used in determining where to play and informing how to win.

Where-to-play insight involves identifying strategic opportunity areas (SOAs) to focus growth.

Conventional where to play research techniques include exploratory research and market segmentation.

How-to-win insight, often tied to a ninety-day project development cycle, involves doing a deep dive to uncover and study solutions to a particular problem or SOA.

You want to immerse yourself in the customer situation, and then use test-and-learn, concept iteration to develop new business models, value propositions, products, and services (see figure below).

Market Research at a Fraction of the Cost

Quantitative and qualitative research used to be costly and take weeks or months to complete. However, new web-based methods, including digital diaries and online ethnography studies, can now be fielded in days or weeks at a fraction of the cost. While the digital research methods differ, the principles remain the same.

In moving from where to play to how to win, insight should become more detailed and produce greater decision-making confidence. This broad-to-narrow, qualitative-to-quantitative pattern works across industries, from consumer goods to business-to-business categories.

Want to learn more about how to apply upstream marketing strategies to your brand, including gaining customer insight? Great!
We are offering access to the second chapter of our info-packed book, Upstream Marketing, here.