Most successful companies are “consumer-first.” And while your job might be hectic at times, your success is ultimately connected to whether or not your product actually helps the consumer solve a problem.
But when you’re in the trenches of an organization, the end user can oftentimes be the last thing that’s on your mind. The stresses of working at a big company don’t come without a healthy dose of office politics, deadlines and PowerPoints that were due yesterday. So how can you realistically balance the work that needs to be done while staying on top of what your customers need?
My company, fNograph, believes it’s all about keeping the voice of the consumer top-of-mind at all times. We’ve helped some of the leading Fortune 100 companies do this every day by equipping teams with the tools needed to watch and share video stories of global consumers throughout their organization. While most teams are looking at the data and numbers, the teams we work with are passionate about bringing their data and research reports to life, in a way that keeps the voice of the consumer embedded in their memory.
But understanding and listening to the consumer doesn’t always have to be a landmark study — you can gather quick tidbits of information and turn them into knowledge and power that can impact your work. Here are four quick ideas you can implement fast:
1. Hold 60-second conversations with the people around you.
Done once or twice a week, this tactic will allow you to understand why people are choosing your product or the competition. It allows you to gather valuable insights and spot anomalies that can take your business or product line in an entirely new direction. When you understand the “jobs to be done” from different perspectives, you’re winning. And it doesn’t have to be a revolutionary concept: asking friends, family, your baristas, trainers and even random people on the street within the right context can all provide insight, even if they don’t necessarily fit your ideal customer profile.
Even asking a simple question like “What’s the first thing that comes to mind when I mention X brand or X competitor?” can yield plentiful data and insight. You’d be surprised how this single inquiry can determine whether a certain company is loved, disliked or completely irrelevant to a person’s life. Keep a journal to jot down interesting quotes and ideas that spawn from these conversations.
2. Document tangible evidence.
Finding out whether or not your product is getting the job done can be uncovered in myriad ways: overhearing conversations, taking a photo of how a shelf is stocked, scrolling through comments on social media, or observing how other types of companies are doing things differently can all be documented. Keep an Evernote folder of everything you come across, and then you can always tap into it. This is something we ask everyone on our teams to do, as the smallest tidbit of information can spark the biggest insight.
3. Recruit your personal consumer advisory board.
Having a relationship with a few people whose brains you can pick on-demand can be a lifesaver. Whether you’re trying to capture a quick reaction to a new product, marketing campaign or just want to tap into the problems they’re facing, having a few friends to whom you can send a quick text can be the key to unlocking new ideas and critical insights.
4. Use visuals and storytelling.
Science tells us that people remember and retain visuals and stories a lot better than numbers and charts on a PowerPoint slide. When you have a collection of videos, images and consumer stories armed and ready to influence teammates and decision makers, you’ll be surprised how easy it is to get to the “Yes, I get it” you’re looking for.
These methods will never be a replacement for your traditional research methods, but if you can squeeze in a few minutes every week to keep the voice of the consumer relevant and top-of-mind, your work will be much more informed and you’ll have the tangible evidence and insight to influence decision-making in your organization.