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The late Steve Jobs is known for citing his lack of faith in focus groups. He once said:
“It is extremely difficult to design products for focus groups. Many times, people need to know what they want until you show it to them. “
His insight is useful, but a lot of people find that Jobs really believes in listening to customers. Bad is not the case. Here’s what else he said on the subject:
“It means we listen to customers, but it’s hard for them to tell you what they want when they never seem to love each other remotely.”
So the deal went away? Whether or not you need to listen to customers?
You better find out.
The difference between “self-reporting” and “real” behavior
Reason Mr. Focus group jobs are that most of the time what people say they do is what they really do. This is the difference between “self-reporting” and “real” behavior.
See an example.
Company A is trying to decide whether or not to build a new product. Before they start, they want to find out if people are shopping or not, so they decide on focus groups and surveys.
Through their research, they discover that everyone really likes the idea and say they will definitely buy it. A super cool idea came up. Everyone loves him.
So the company goes into development and builds the product. When finished, they release it to the market, but a funny thing happens. Hardly anyone buys them. Everyone said they would, but when it came time to actually separate myself from my money, people were always willing to do it.
It happened that there was a difference between what people thought they wanted and what they actually wanted and the real test came when people had to pull out their wallet to buy something. It’s easy to say ahead of time, but will people really do it when it’s time to buy? Maybe, maybe not.
This is why actual behavior is more important than the behavior reported by the report and why experiments are more useful than focus groups and surveys.
But here’s another question: Does this mean you should never listen to your customers?
Absolutely not. Rather talk about why.
When you LISTEN to listen to your customers
Instead of just thinking that listening to customers is a bad idea, we should look at some situations where they need to be given an ear, and that has to do with pain and frustration.
Company B is in the same market as Company A and is interested in building a similar product. However, instead of asking people what they want, they ask what frustrations current products have. They ask questions like:
- What is your biggest frustration with this product?
- What do you struggle with the most?
- What questions do you have with your current business model?
By asking these questions, Company B identifies pain points, and addressing these pain can be used to identify where there is opportunity for innovation. It can also be used to optimize copy and sell sites.
After conducting these focus groups and surveys, Company B develops a different product from Company A. After launch, they achieve greater success, not only because they are selling the right way to customers, but also because their sales copy is more in tune with the frustration that people have they have. Customers visit their site and think, “Alas, I always like to read my opinion.” Why? Because they asked the right questions and knew when and how they should listen to customers.
So, the next time we think about doing a focus group or survey, take a minute to decide what to try to think of. Do you hope customers will tell you about the next big product innovation, or are you trying to learn what frustrations they have and where their pain lies?
Based on Mr. Job tips, rather look for the answer to the second question.
So what about you? When are you listening to customers and when not?