Living Entrepreneurship Blog / Babson Entrepreneurs

Market Research? Just get out there!

Very often entrepreneurs hear the “talk to the customers” advice, but it is surprising to see how we constantly keep failing to get out there early in the process. Many times we wait for the final product, the right numbers and a solid questionnaire to go out there and test our ideas; we get stuck looking for the perfect results and the technical analysis before taking action.

After working in investment banking and marketing research I was always concerned about solid and precise numbers; and don’t get me wrong, for those companies where the prestige is very important the rigor in the numbers is relevant, but the truth is that in a startup, talking to customers during informal conversations or in the sales process, provides far more valuable feedback than a sophisticated research.

My experience with GoBag has showed me how useful it is to talk to customers early on, and although we tested a prototype and discovered that running or cycling wasn’t the best use for our product before we got started, it was only until recently that I realized about the amount of relevant information I had gathered from all the customers I talked to during this past year, without having to use elaborate research techniques.

Talking to customers I learned what’s important for them, what they look for, the problems they face and I even got ideas on how my offering could be improved to satisfy their needs. I also understood the way the industry works and how purchases are made; I was able to define the designs to be printed in our bottles and feedback about using a positive healthy tone in our graphics was received; I found the price that institutional clients would pay for a customized bottle and I even found a way of selling that I never thought of before; All of these through short informal conversations.

As you can see, no structured research is needed at the beginning, I’m sure it works I have seen it in action, but while we get too technical we also loose opportunities. Therefore if you want to know if an idea is feasible or craft a value proposition, or if you are further along and want to put together a business plan or clarify the brand architecture, be willing to listen and open to adapt and just get out there and start talking to your customers and try to sell to them as early as possible!