What is real Marketing Research today? One example…

According to a long-winded definition from www.businessdictionary.com, Marketing Research is…

“Scientific discovery methods applied to marketing decision making. It generally comprises of:

(1) Market research: identification of a specific market and measurement of its size and other characteristics.

(2) Product research: identification of a need or want and the characteristic of the good or service that will satisfy it.

(3) Consumer research: identification of the preferences, motivations, and buying behavior of the targeted customer. Information for marketing research is collected from direct observation of the consumers (such as in retail stores), mail surveys, telephone or face-to-face interviews, and from published sources (such as demographic data).

The main objective is to find a real need and fulfill it in a most cost effective and timely manner.

Also called market research.”

So it’s scientific…what does that mean?

And the main objective is to find a real need and fulfill it…OK.

In the last few weeks we’ve had the privilege of watching the real impact of Marketing Research in its purest form…getting off your duff and talking to people.

Through the Starting Lean course offered by the Norman Newman Centre, part of the Faculty of Management at Dalhousie University, the Canadian Business Model Competition sponsored by Deloitte, and events such as Startup Weekend Halifax and East Coast Startup Week, we’ve seen quite a few established and budding entrepreneurs talk about the value of engaging potential customers, investors, industry leaders and ordinary people in the process of vetting their ideas.

The exciting part is listening to them talk about their failures…especially those that did not stop them, but caused them to react, reconsider and pivot from their original idea to solve a pain point they discovered during the listening process.

Too often we’ve encountered successful companies who, in the face of customer objections, just continue to push on up the hill, only to find when they arrive…it’s the wrong hill.

So what’s missing from the definition above…nothing really, except we forget that part of scientific discovery is that we often find our hypothesis is wrong, so we need to reset our assumptions and repeat the process until we have a verifiable hypothesis.

Oh yes, and we should try and fulfill real needs.  It’s a lot easier than pushing the rope uphill!

Here’s to all those involved in the discovery process…engage, listen and learn!

Where will all tomorrow leaders come from?

To read the popular press, you’d think the future of our young people is pretty bleak…layoffs, part-time jobs, off-shore competition.  Horrible!

But there’s another aspect that doesn’t make the front pages:

Last night I had the privilege of attending the final presentations for a course at the Dalhousie University Faculty of Management called Starting Lean.  Peter Moreira of Entravestor.com has described it better than I can, so please read his article.

Mary Kilfoil and Ed Leach took a group of diverse students, including engineers, programmers, business students, arts students, PhDs…and in less than 3 months had them go through the entire process from idea to, in some case, commercialization, along the way doing real-world evaluation with true potential customers and stakeholders (ahem…market research was instrumental).

Not everyone ended up traveling the road on which they started, there were a number of significant pivots along the way, revamping, re-tooling, and generally navigating the messy process many entrepreneurs go through along the way.  But that all part of the learning, a big part of the learning!

In addition to some amazing product/service/ventures, these real-world entrepreneurs blossomed right before their colleagues’ eyes.  Students who were petrified to stand in front of 2 people on September 6th, presented in front of an almost packed auditorium in the Faculty’s Rowe Building.  And they presented professional pitches, complete with live displays, skateboarders and amazing video.

All I can say is, if these are the people who are going to be funding my public healthcare system in the years to come through their tax dollars…I’m going to do everything I can to keep them here and have them develop their dreams in Nova Scotia.  Even if this particular dream doesn’t make it through the brutal process that is real life business development, their next one, or the one after that will be a success.

There’s no quitting when you’ve been schooled by Doctors Kilfoil and Leach!