Market research: Asking the right questions

Two researchers transformed how I think about my work, Clayton M. Christensen and Everett Rogers. For now, let me focus on Christensen. Christensen helped remind me of the importance of framing your questions around motivations:

“Resources are what he uses to do it, processes are how he does it, and priorities are why he does it.”

Ignoring the pronouns, which were appropriate at the time Christensen wrote this, this quote gets to the heart of knowing before you ask a question just what you need to learn. If you are at the beginning of product development for example, you may need to know all these things – what resources are your customers currently using (competitive intelligence), what processes do your customers use (Are you able to fit within their current processes? Will your product save time? Are you a disruptor?), and how important is your product within a larger list of priorities for your customers?

Not only does this framework help focus the questions posed, it also helps when analyzing the results of the market research. Few businesses want to wade into every customer insight! It is the researcher´s responsibility to make sense of everything uncovered and to not only deliver a summary of insights, but also provide recommendations about what it all means.