Skip to content

How to get customer insight without breaking the bank

Research Image

How do we truly know that our opinions, approaches, and ideas are going to work? Marketers are forced to confront a future they can only guess at. And worse, when we commit to our ideas we are simultaneously saying no to other possibilities and options. 

The natural reaction is to make the challenge less daunting by turning our challenges into a problem that can be solved with tried and tested tools. We instinctively go back to the same frameworks that box in our thinking. 

To create strategies and marketing that wins we need to fight this urge. True strategy is about placing bets and making hard choices. It’s about thinking outside the box and addressing the unique problems that face our businesses. It’s not about eliminating risk but increasing the odds of success. 

That’s where research comes in.

With more information, we can make better decisions. But conducting market research can be daunting, with the fear of $$$ adding up. While external research is well worth the investment, if you don’t have the budget or executive support for it, how can you get started? Often there is a ton of great data and resources available to you if we know how to scratch beyond the surface.

Here are our tips on how to uncover insights that can drive strategy, all on a budget:

1 Stay focused

Collecting great marketing intelligence starts with defining specific objectives. Operating without well-defined goals or outcomes for your research can lead to a flood of information that drowns actionable insights. Specific objectives align your research with your wider strategic goals. It keeps you focused on the information and insights that really matter. Some examples of clear objectives include:

  • Understanding customer pain points to generate content ideas
  • Evaluating perceptions of a brand versus competitors
  • Developing buyer personas or ideal customer profiles
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of current marketing messages and channels
  • Gathering insights on product feature priorities and needs

2 Open the feedback loops

Often, the best insights arise from informal conversations. Engaging in discovery calls with key clients, prospects, and particularly your own sales & product teams, is the most economical and effective means of discovering what your customers’ problems are, what they care about, and how they view your brand. It’s important, however, to exercise caution and refrain from making sweeping generalisations across diverse personas and regions. If your sample size is small, corroborate your hypotheses through qualitative techniques like surveys.

After all, the only thing worse than not having any insights is having misleading insights.

3 Think outside the box

Speaking directly with customers is an absolute must, but it has its limitations. One of these is a phenomenon known as introspection illusion. Introspection illusion is the misconception that we know why we like the things we like and feel the way we feel. The reality is, we don’t understand the origin of certain emotional states, and when pressed to explain them, we will just make something up.

What does this mean? Asking your customers direct questions about why they acted in a certain way may create misleading results.

So how do we bridge this gap? We need to think outside the box. We need to look at the data from a different angle. The best insights often come from thinking in new and different ways. When trying to understand the deeper emotional reasoning behind why our customers are acting in a certain way, asking directly may not be the best approach. Instead, one option could be to look at the customer journey more closely:

  • Do our audience prefer human interaction over digital research methods?
  • Do they seek out trusted third-party content over our own branded content?
  • How many touchpoints were required before they converted?
  • Which channels did they prefer?
  • Were multiple members of the buying committee involved throughout the process?
  • What web pages did they visit? How often did they return to the website?
  • The list goes on…

These are the types of questions that can unlock deeper insights into the emotional behaviour driving decisions.

The above three tips are just the tip of the iceberg, a short introduction to how you can begin your research journey on a tight budget. Of course, there are plenty of other tools, methods and external sources you can use. It largely depends on what your research objectives are and the industry you play in. The point is, with clear objectives and a little creative thinking it is possible to drive strategy defining insights on a tight budget.

If you want help with your research approach feel free to drop us a note.