Question: How many facepalm moments did I have in the following conversation?
First, let me give you some context:
Last week, I switched internet service providers. I asked H, who works for me, to return the modems and cancel the old subscription.
H: Unfortunately, we can’t cancel over the phone.
A: Who told you this?
H: The postman.
H says, all proud and excited because he thinks he found a shortcut and wants me to praise him for it:
H: That guy delivers over 50 internet invoices everyday. He knows these things inside and out.
I respond, in an uncharacteristically zen voice (asking the postman is so ridiculous I can’t keep a straight face long enough to be mad):
A: I see. Nonetheless, please call this number on the invoice and ask the internet company directly.
One hour later…
H: I called. Apparently, as the account holder you have to go there personally. There is a branch nearby, but it might be better to do this at their headquarters as it’s en route to your meeting.
A: Did you call the headquarters to confirm this?
H: The line was busy.
A: Are you sure they process cancellations there? What are their working hours? I don’t want to go all the way there, only to find out that they’re closed. Also: What documentation do I need with me?
H: Errr, I’ll ask.
(As it turns out, no, the headquarters don’t actually deal with cancellations. You have to go to your local branch instead with this, this and that form.)
The point of all this?
Asking the postman instead of the internet company who calls the shots sounds ridiculous (and it is.)
But 99% of business owners do something equally ridiculous when they do market research.
They ask random strangers on forums.
They survey subscribers who haven’t yet voted with their wallets.
They ask non-buyers who have seen the offer, in three different launches, and chose not to buy.
Or they carry a humongous folder with market research notes. They’re overwhelmed. They think nobody wants their product and that all the launch assets will have to be rewritten from scratch.
Because “that’s what people want”.
Are these people you spoke to the ideal target buyers for that product?
Then why are you listening to them?
Don’t ask the postman.
Ask the internet company who actually calls the shots.
Don’t ask your competitors, your peers, your second cousin third removed what they think about your marketing.
Ask the buyers, so you can understand why they bought and where you can find more people like them. After all, they are the ones who actually call the shots when it comes to your revenue.
In short: Ask the right people the right questions, or what you learn through “market research” will harm rather than hurt your revenue.
By the way, if you struggle with market research, if you don’t know what questions to ask and who exactly to ask them to, then check out Module 1 of FAST50 (http://fast50optins.com/).
Ultimately, market research doesn’t have to be a black box whose internal workings are hidden and not readily understood.
Once you understand how to do it for opt-in pages, you’ll also grasp how to do it for sales pages, for sales emails, and for everything else.