When to listen to market research (and when not to) - Trial and Eureka

When to listen to market research (and when not to)

By Alp | List-building

This is so patently absurd it has to be true:

I read about this guy who came home to find that his roommate had picked his lock and stolen his new laptop. When he tried to take it back, his roommate called the police.

They sided with the roommate since she had also taken the receipt, which was “proof” that it was hers...

Anyway, that story got me thinking about the “proof” we use to justify business decisions - and how most of it doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.

“So why are you changing that again?”

“Because that’s what people want, man. I listened to the market. Talked to my list. They told me to do it.”

Everytime I hear that from an entrepreneur friend, I cringe inwardly and imagine banging my head against the desk, repeatedly, until I anesthetize myself against the horrors people commit in the name of market research.

Well, here is the thing:

There is signal and then there is noise.

As your business grows, you’ll start hearing more from your subscribers.

A lot of people will be filling your head with ideas, and it’s very easy to get distracted or pulled off course by listening to the wrong kind of feedback.

So how do you determine what to listen to and what to ignore?

This is more of an art than a science. That said, here are three rules of thumb I use:


It sounds like a martial art, and it is: the martial art of analysing market research.

First, WHO.

Who is telling you this?

If they’re not your target buyer, then “smile and ignore”.

(If you need help with this because you’re not sure who your target buyer is, you can explore FAST50. If you’re already a student, revisit Module 1.)

Second, WHEN.

They’re the right person, and they’re saying something sensible. When should you actually take action on their feedback?

Do you stop what you’re doing and go change a bunch of stuff or do you say, “Not now, maybe later”?

This usually depends on what the feedback is ABOUT. Is it about your product positioning? Your opt-in offer? Your sales message? Your course content?

Why does this matter?

Because the benchmark of success for each of these is different.

If you know the benchmarks, you can say “OK. What we have is actually ‘good enough’. Yes, incorporating these suggestions will make it better, but that’s not where our big wins will come from. So we’ll park it for now.”

Also, marketing assets are not all equally easy to change. And that shapes the methodology you use to test suggestions relating to those assets.

Again, if you need help with this in the context of opt-in offers, I lay out my exact process in Modules 4 & 5 of FAST50.

Also, in order to get the right insights at the right time, you use a different autoresponder email depending on whether your opt-in offer is converting (a) below 10%, (b) between 10-50%, or (c) above 50%.

The “Copy/Paste Autoresponder Module” in the Standard and Complete Editions of FAST50 walks  you through my recommendations and gives you the exact templates to use.

Let’s move on.

Third, DO.

Look at what they actually do, not what they say they want.

Behaviour is more reliable than words.

That’s why I built a process to test-drive your solution with your target buyer to see if it actually works as promised.

You should use the same process to see what’s actually happening before you take their word for it and go back to the drawing board.

They say they’re getting stuck because of X and therefore want you to change Y. Is that really why they’re getting stuck?

Because if it isn’t, changing Y is just a waste of time.

You need to see their process in action.

In short...

Just because the market says “Jump”... should you?