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Which customers are you listening to?

Glenn Gow brought to my attention a post he wrote a few weeks back that should get us all thinking. In it, he summarizes a recent MITSloan Management Review piece that upbraids most marketers for doing the easiest kind of market research: Listening to our existing customers. Instead, we need to hear what the entire market wants, not just those people that already buy from us.

The prescription given is for full market panels, which makes sense. Market research has always operated based on customer panels and ensuring that you cover your entire target market rather than just the folks you know makes perfect sense. In the past, I’ve written about online panels that might get you lots of coverage for very little cost.
And I agree with that, up to a point. It’s critically important that we keep in mind what online panels are good for. They’re good for getting to the “why” behind behavior. But they are not always accurate.
My problem with market researchers is that they are sometimes too wedded to the tried and true survey techniques they are familiar with. Market researchers need to get involved with Web metrics so that they can help analyze the treasure trove of information we get every day from our Web sites.
Market research needs to embrace all methods of learning about customers. Online panels are great, but let’s also analyze what customers actually do in real-life situations.

Mike Moran

Mike Moran is a Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also served as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website,, most recently as the Manager of Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He was a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research and is now a Senior Fellow of The Conference Board. A Certified Speaking Professional, Mike regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide

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