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The Real Market Research Questions You Should Be Asking

Melani Dizon of Copy Hackers gets it. She’s helped many brand influencers and companies create better content and better reach out to their target audience because she’s found the right questions to ask.

Most people that dive into market research, even market researchers themselves, tend to ask “Who is my customer?”. Well, that’s not a bad question to ask. In fact, the answer definitely contains valuable information. But what questions should you be putting more effort into finding answers for? What questions will help you answer that particular question in the most effective way possible? 

Using the Jobs-To-Be-Done framework, outlined perfectly by Alan Klement, you dive into the why and how of your product to conduct this market research.

The JBTD framework:

  1. Interview people that have purchased your product or service before
  2. Interview in teams of 2
  3. Ask them questions about their struggles
  4. Avoid assumptions

The beauty of this framework is that it provides insightful qualitative analysis as to why your customers chose you. The story below outlines the uses of the framework beautifully.

You dash out of the building and start walking by places that sell food. You first pass by a funny looking guy at the corner selling bananas – that won’t work ‘cause you need serious grub. Next, you walk by a cafe – that won’t work either because by the time you sit down and order your food, you’ll have to leave. Then, you walk by two places: a taco stand and a pizza joint. Fast food joints.

At first glance, both look legit. You then look up at their signs and one says, “Ray’s World Famous Pizza! Voted #1 Pizza!” and the other says, “In & Out Tacos. Tasty taco meals in 30 seconds.”

Which do you think you’d choose?

Chances are, most people in this scenario would go to the taco place. Not necessarily because they love tacos more than pizza. But because the taco place had a message that spoke directly to the situation they were facing: I’m really hungry and I gotta eat something fast so I can get to where I need to be, on time. They wanted to hire a product to do the job of satisfying their hunger fast. The social proof messages – “voted #1”, “world famous” – simply wouldn’t be as persuasive to this prospect.

That’s the difference between product thinking (and copywriting) that focuses on a product VS. a customer’s job to be done.

As can be seen above, you can’t determine that a customer is a customer simply because of demographic information.

You can't determine that a customer is a customer simply because of demographic information

Years ago, I helped lead a study on customer segmentation for a regional grocery store. Upon initially determining the demographics that made up each segment, we were able to dive deeper as to why these customers purchased the way they did. We ultimately found four segments based on behaviors instead of demographics.

Behavior Is Key

Behavior is key in determining a target market. Not demographics.

The behaviors are much easier to act on because, well, you know what they’re doing. You know what their goal is and how to help them reach it. This is the difference between simply knowing who your customer is and the job that they are trying to accomplish.

Is it easy to implement? At first, it may seem overwhelming as different customers are likely using your product or service for different reasons. But as you continue to collect information, a few common trends are likely to reveal themselves, creating a more clear path to effectively marketing the jobs that your consumers value and need to be completed.

The JBTD framework can be revolutionary for businesses if done correctly. And as consumers change over time, so do the jobs that they need to be completed. Continual research utilizing this method can give a company a competitive edge.

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Duane “DJ” Sprague is a conversion rate expert, a Certified Behavioral Design Coach by the Online Influence Institute, and a certified expert by the Behavioral Design Academy, the Mindworx Academy, and the Interaction Design Institute. As CMO of a billion-dollar national franchise, he leveraged the power of social proof and online reviews to improve SEO and accelerate growth, as he developed and managed a comprehensive online reputation management strategy that spanned nearly 200 websites. He has written for Forbes, Small Biz Daily, and several industry trade magazines, contributed to several books and university course packs, and is quoted in the Los Angeles Times as a subject matter expert. He holds a master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communication and has received the 1st Place Gold Award in a global integrated marketing competition. Duane is the CMO of Shopper Approved, where he works with thousands of ecommerce websites to improve their SEO and CRO.

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