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NIn my last blog post, I talked about the importance of product-market fit. A big part of that is connecting with your target customers and understanding their needs. To gather information about their customers, many business owners immediately turn to surveys. Surveys are great as a starting point – they give you a big picture look at trends and behaviours – but to really get a sense of what your customers want, go beyond the survey with these 3 ideas:

Use Networking Events for more than just Networking
You probably already see networking opportunities from a business development perspective. What if you could use them for product development as well? Some of the people you meet might just be part of your target market, so try to use these events to gather some information about your customer. You’re both there to grow your businesses, so why not get their thoughts on the products or services that you’re offering?

Stop and Chat
Let’s say you know that people in your target market are 30-40 years old, female, and living in suburban areas – who do you know that fits in this demographic? A family-friend, your hairdresser, a cousin? Why not set up a time to chat – it doesn’t have to be a formal interview. Just getting a sense of how someone in your target market would react to a product like yours is helpful. It doesn’t have to be coffee either – you could do drinks, yoga, or a dance class – keep it relaxed and low pressure, and try to get their honest opinion.

Check the Forums
The Internet has made it easy for like-minded people to connect and discuss just about anything. If there’s already a market for your product, chances are there’s a few forums or blogs discussing what they like about it. The same goes for similar products listed online – check out the reviews to find what people don’t like and focus on what they do, and design your offering with this in mind.

Face-to-face information gathering can help you understand the attitudes and feelings of your target customer. Using these ideas in combination with surveys will give you a clear picture of who your customer is, and how to sell your product to them.

Posted by Kristen Campbell

Kristen is in the final year of her second undergraduate degree in accounting. She has worked in audit, as well as taxes, and plans to pursue her CPA, but her real passion is writing. For the last 8 years, she's been working as a freelance ghostwriter to fund her studies, exposing her to a wide variety of subject matter. In her spare time, she uses this exposure to fuel her passion for pub trivia.

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