John Smith’s Eyes – Virtually Free Marketing Research

Virtually Free Market Research

“If you want to know WHY John Smith buys WHAT John Smith buys, you have to see the world through John Smith’s eyes.”

Who Is John Smith?

John Smith is everyperson.  He is no particular person.  But John Smith's opinions and thoughts are one of the most sought-after qualities of today's marketing industry.   Ray Rubicam, founder of Young & Rubicam of one of the original "Madmen" Madison Avenue firms started chasing John Smith pre-World War II.  So did a young David Ogilvy, (who went on to found Ogilvy and Mather) newly arrived from England joined this quest.  But the  lynch pin was George Gallup, the now-famous pollster, who started his career with Young and Rubicam agency in 1937 and hired Ogilvy in 1938.  Gallup, Rubicam and Ogilvy started the trend that became the Marketing Research industry.

These three legendary figures were convinced businesses need to know their customers’ “hot buttons” - the top reasons consumers buy products within your industry and the top reasons your customers buy from you.  If you can get a handle on what they want, you should be able to develop a killer message that gives you a more powerful message and a much greater chance at success.

Marketers have written volumes on the importance of marketing research.  This article was written to give you some suggestions on how you can do reasonably accurate marketing research virtually free.

Valuable Research – Negligible Cost

Knowing the answer to the John Smith question will help a small business tremendously in identifying what their message should be.  But just how to do it?  And how to do it on the cheap?  Here are some ideas.

  • Ask Your Customers – Just about every small business has a base of good, loyal customers. Talk to them and ask them to answer two simple questions.  (Cost:  Some Thank You notes and a few “Special Friend” discount coupons)
    • WHY do you buy from us?
    • How likely is it that you would recommend us to a friend or family member?
  • Ask Your Friends – We all know people who buy in our industry. Ask a few of your friends, neighbors or fellow church members to a casual get together over coffee.  Ask them what they think about when faced with buying decisions in your industry.  Ask them to tell you the most important reason they shop where they shop.  (Cost:  Even at Starbucks, coffee and cake for five or six people shouldn’t break the bank.)
  • “Ask” Your Competitors – Look at their websites, check out their advertising. How do they differentiate themselves from you?  Is there something they’re not saying or doing that you can?  Look a their materials in light of the answers you got from your friends.  (Cost: Zero.)

Try it.  You’ve got virtually nothing to lose and everything to gain.

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