A Market Research Tip From Atticus Finch?
Try This Thought Experiment To Better Understand Your Customers
Like a lot of other 9th graders, my son is reading To Kill a Mockingbird for the first time. We recently talked about Boo Radley. Specifically, Atticus Finch’s line:
"First of all," he said, "if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view […] until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."
My lit professors would probably cringe that I am using an American classic to make a marketing point. But, this is a perfect example of the power of empathy when used to better understand your customers.
For Scout and Jim, Boo Radley is mystery — elusive and enigmatic. And, for many of us, so are customers. As I mentioned in my last post, understanding what they are really buying is a critical part of your marketing strategy. So, how do you gain that deep understanding? Here’s a thought experiment worth trying:
Spend an imaginary day in the life of your customer.
That’s right. From the moment you wake up to the moment you hit the sack, try to imagine the experience from the perspective of your customer. Pay attention to the those little life experiences. How does (s)he live his life? As you go through your own daily routine, ask yourself, what is my customer doing right now? Pay the most attention to where, when and how your product or service is relevant throughout the day. How well do you really know them?
Even better, if possible, see if you can spend a day shadowing a real customer for a first-hand assessment. Sure, some behaviors will change simply because you are observing them. That’s ok. You’ll be able to easily determine what they normally do when you’re not around. (I hope it goes without saying that you’ll want to get permission before you start spying on them. You’ll avoid some awkward moments.)
Marketers that conduct this little experiment will gain competitive advantage. How? First, you’ll likely learn new or better ways to reach your target customer which will help improve your marketing. Second, and more importantly, you’ll gain an appreciation for the challenges your customer is facing. Those pain points we like to talk aren’t theoretical — they are quite real and you’ll be in a better position to not only understand them, but solve them.