In business as in dating, the key to success is in knowing your market

In business as in dating, the key to success is in knowing your market. To create a product that people will buy you have to know what they want or will accept. To sell a product so people can buy it you have to know where they are, and how to reach them. The same is true in dating.

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If you look at yourself as a product then proper research can help you define the key elements of your market. This means getting the answers to the three W's: Who's out there, Where to find them, and What do they want?

These are very important questions. They must be answered before you can look at your competitive advantages. They must be answered before you can begin your packaging and positioning. Finally, they must be answered before you can begin creating the kick-ass marketing campaign that leaves potential lovers groveling at your feet.

In the end, isn't that what you want?

WHAT IS MARKET RESEARCH AND WHY DO YOU NEED IT?

To answer that question, let's look at a textbook answer:

"Market research can be thought of as the application of scientific method to the solution of marketing problems. It involves studying people as buyers, sellers, and consumers, examining their attitudes, preferences, habits, and purchasing power. Market research is also concerned with the channels of distribution, with promotion and pricing, and with the design of the products and services to be marketed.

All businesses require accurate and timely information to be successful. Whether your company is large or small, the right amount of financing, equipment, materials, talent, and experience alone are not enough to succeed without a constant flow of the right business information. All successful business owners must know their markets, competitors, customer wants and needs, and "what it takes to be competitive." It is not enough to know the answers to what, where, when, and how questions about our businesses. We also need to know why people buy our products and services.

The first step in doing market research is to decide what you really need to find out. Do you need to obtain a general feel for how key target buyers think about your product category and it's various types of items, brands, and buying occasions? If so, interviewing groups of target buyers in focus groups may be the way to go, even though this type of research indicates only directional trends and may not be statistically reliable. Or is the confirmation of general trends in your industry sufficient? In that case, reading information from outside information services, industry trade associations, and industry experts may be all that you need to do."

The essence of useful market research is objectivity. You can't decide what you're going to find then figure out how to find it. True, you may have a hypothesis that you want to test, or a product idea that you want to trial, but don't seek to confirm what you already know. If you are so sure that a product will sell that you will risk putting all of your bets on it, then bet away! You've got a 50/50 chance, which is better than Vegas odds. For example, think about your "Ex".

Sometimes you always knew how they would react to a certain situation. It happened time and time again, and when you mentioned this fact they would get mad and say you we're wrong and full of cow manure. But unfailingly they had the same reaction over and over. In this case do you need market research? No! The reason is you've already done the market research through observation. You've watched what they did and drawn your conclusions. You subsequently used those conclusions to predict their future actions.

This is the level of certainty that you want to achieve in your dating market research. You want to observe, draw conclusions, put them to the test, check the responses, and when you are sure of the results, exploit them until you can no longer stand the intensity of the experience.

WELL KNOWN METHODS OF MARKET RESEARCH

There are many tried and true methods for performing market research. The average American is familiar with them in one way or another, usually because they've participated in them while walking down the street or trying to eat dinner. The ones that we will cover in this chapter include the following:

oPolls

oSurveys

oOne-on-one interviews

oFocus groups

oSyndicated research

Each of these methods has their strengths and weaknesses, particularly from a dating perspective. To simplify them for you, we've provided a brief summary of each, along with our opinion on how to use them.

POLLS

What the experts say:

Definition: a questioning or canvassing of persons selected at random or by quota to obtain information or opinions to be analyzed.

A useful and simple to implement method of ascertaining a large population's opinion on 1-2 topics. Generally confined to one question, with one to four pre-written answers from which to choose.

What we say:

Polls are for very lazy people. You ask a few simple questions, like who would you vote for President, or which supermodel looks better in a topless bikini, or do you find your cat sexy. People pick one option, or answer yes or no. That's it. No detail, no insight. Just very broad generalizations, with unscientific unverifiable conclusions like those you find among women in New York ("Men are assholes"), women in Los Angeles ("Men are snakes"), and women in Wyoming ("Men need to bathe").

On the other hand, unscientific conclusions are perfect for media and political polls, which is why they are everywhere during an election year.

Despite this weakness, polls can be extremely useful for dating in a few special circumstances, if you have the nerve to employ them. For example, if you went up to every person that looked liked a potential date, you could ask them two of the following questions (any more and it's a survey):

"Are you single"

"Do you find me attractive?"

"How attractive (pick one)? - A Little bit, Kind of, Sort of, Very, Mucho"

"Would you ever consider going out with me?"

"Is money more important to you or looks?"

"Is personality more important or money?"

"Which is more important, sex or food?"

Of course, keep in mind that you need to announce that you're taking a poll. Otherwise it just sounds like you're trying out pick-up lines.

SURVEYS

What the experts say:

Surveys provide quantitative information. Quantitative research is numerically oriented, requires significant attention to the measurement of market phenomena, and often involves statistical analysis. For example, when a restaurant asks it's customers to rate different aspects of it's service on a scale from 1 (good) to 10 (poor), this provides quantitative information that may be analyzed statistically.

What we say:

Survey's are good in that they give you somewhat definitive answers to many questions, and you can put together a pretty good picture of your market. You can add the answers and come up with totals, percentages, ratios, and all kinds of great stuff that look really good on charts. Plus you can get a good feel for what the majority likes and dislikes. But only if you ask the right questions. The legendary Cosmopolitan survey is a good example. This survey, which receives national press coverage, once came up with a very interesting statistical conclusion:

"Women over 35 in New York City are more likely to be eaten alive by a shark than to eventually get married"

When this conclusion was published, women over 35 around the country simultaneously reached for the Valium and Vodka, and their mothers reached for the telephone to see if their best friend's recently divorced son was still available.

How do you draw the comparison between marriage and shark attacks? (Married people could probably answer that one without even skipping a beat)Maybe the survey went something like this:

#1 - Sex (M/F)

#2 - How old are you?

#3 - Are you married? (Y/N)

#4 - Are you going to get married? (Y/N)

#5 - Are you going to be eaten by a shark? (Y/N)

As you can see, as with all market research you have to be very careful about how you phrase the question.

In all fairness to Cosmopolitan, they probably looked at the incidence of women who had married after reaching the decrepit age of 35, and the incidence of women being eaten by sharks, and decided that sharks had the edge. What we don't know is if they also compared it to other phenomena like lightening strikes, meteor impacts, ice falling from airplanes, whirlpool drowning, Sasquatch kidnapping, Alien lovefests, and men not losing your telephone number before they call the first time.

ONE-ON-ONE INTERVIEWS

What the experts say:

The most expensive form of market research, one-on-one interviews allow you to define individual traits, thoughts, preferences, and reactions of your target market at profound level of detail. Due to the time required for each interview, as well as the need to identify and recruit interviewees, one-one interviews, though valuable, consume a great deal of time and energy.

Additionally, the small sample size may result in false data that is not statistically significant, essentially creating an untrue profile of your target market, and a subsequent waste of your marketing and business resources.

What we say:

This is what happens during most first and second dates, and we know how effective they are. If it doesn't work out then you feel like you've wasted your time, or like something's wrong with you. On the other hand, it does give you first-hand knowledge of the issues. Unfortunately, the information is very biased based on your own perceptions, plus the fact that the interviewee may not have been entirely honest in their responses.

Come on, who actually believes it when they say, "It's not you, it's me"?

FOCUS GROUPS

What the experts say:

Focus groups are a somewhat informal technique that can help you assess user needs and feelings both before interface design and long after implementation. In a focus group, you bring together from six to nine users to discuss issues and concerns about the features of a user interface. The group typically lasts about two hours and is run by a moderator who maintains the group's focus.

Focus groups often bring out users' spontaneous reactions and ideas and let you observe some group dynamics and organizational issues. You can also ask people to discuss how they perform activities that span many days or weeks: something that is expensive to observe directly. However, they can only assess what customers say they do and not the way customers actually operate the product. Since there are often major differences between what people say and what they do, direct observation of one user at a time always needs to be done to supplement focus groups.

What we say:

This is the way to go. Something close to objectivity, with the benefits of multiple perspectives. People feel more comfortable answering questions in a group setting, no matter how dumb they sound. After about fifteen minutes they're telling you how they feel on a wide variety of subjects. When someone says, "I prefer blondes", five others chime in with, "Yeah, because you get to ask them if it's real!" Now you're starting to understand your market. Focus groups are great because all you need is more than three of the test subjects and you can begin. Location is unimportant. Bar, home, work, the gym, each is a usable focus group venue. If they answer the apparently innocent first question, "What do you like in a date?", then you're in.

On the other hand, be careful, because focus groups can mislead you if you don't probe deeply enough. The following focus group discussion is a good example:

Focus Group Member A: All the men around here are either gay, or don't have any social skills

Focus Group Member B: Yeah!

Focus Group Member C: That's right!

Us: Why do you say that, they can't all be gay or socially inept

Focus Group Member A: They are, they're not interested in us, just in working out or their computers

Focus Group Member B: Losers!

Focus Group Member C: That's right!

Us: So no men have asked you out recently?

Focus Group Member A: Only guys who think that their stock options are going to impress me

Focus Group Member B: Yeah, or they're gay

Us: A gay man asked you out? How do you know he's gay?

Focus Group Member B: Because he hasn't kissed me

Focus Group Member A: He hasn't kissed you, he's gay alright!

Us: So you're just friends then, what's the big deal? You thought it was going to be more?

Focus Group Member B: Maybe. He still sends me flowers after four months. He's a sweetie

Us: He sent flowers after four months?

Focus Group Member B: Yeah. Actually now that I think about it, he did try to kiss me once

Us: Really, how do you know?

Focus Group Member B: A woman knows these things. He did 'the lean.'

Focus Group Member C: Oh yeah, 'the lean!'

Us: So did you kiss him?

Focus Group Member B: Nope. I stopped him by just looking straight ahead. I had some big deliverables due at work, and didn't want to be distracted.

Us: And he never tried to kiss you again?

Focus Group Member B: Not yet

Us: And you think that he's gay?

Focus Group Member B: ...maybe, anyway, I know that I can have him if I want him

Focus Group Member C: Give him to me.

Focus Group Member B: Well, I'm not interested him in that way anymore

As you can see, market research of any type is only as good you make it. As they say, "there are statistics, damn statistics, and lies."

SYNDICATED RESEARCH

What the experts say:

Syndicated research is often performed by a research firm or analyst group without a specific request by a client. The firm is known as an industry expert, and the creation of publication of research reports providers a the reader in-depth information that they normally may not be able to afford with customized or sponsored research. This research is generally available to any party or competitor that can afford the purchase price.

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Posted in Photograph Post Date 03/30/2017


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