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Many people will tell you that market research is important. Some will say that it is in fact much more than important – and that without it, it is impossible to assess if and how any business can work. At the other extreme, there are those that rally against market research because – they say – it can confine you to only what it probable, causing you to ignore the magic and the adventure of what is possible. Going with your gut. Taking more risks. Living your dreams.
The real business world sits somewhere in the middle – between insights and imagination. Somewhere between having an understanding of what is going on out there right now, and what is going on inside of you right now. And shorthand for all of this could, if you like, be referred to as, ‘The Two ‘Who’s’ of Business’.
One of the strangest things to ever happen in business is something that many owner managers and business leaders do to themselves. It’s strange because the effect of them doing it can cause unhappiness, anxiety and confusion. And it happens a lot. This thing that owner managers do to themselves is this. They forget who they themselves want to become.
Insights – and the First ‘Who’.
Focus groups, assessing buyer behaviour, working out what parts of your marketing strategy are working best, forensically picking over what kind of social media content (posted at what time, on what day, and with how many words, even) gets the most engagement. This is all useful. If you gather your insights regularly, analyse them thoroughly, look for trends, and react to what you find out consistently. It takes you towards the first ‘Who’ of ‘The Two Who’s of Business’. It takes you towards the customer ‘Who’. But there’s a twist.
Because this little story is not just asking you who your customer is. And whether you really understand their habits and behaviours. It is asking you something much more important than that. It is asking you whether you actually like them. It is asking you whether you care about them. It is asking you whether you want to make their life better with what you do for them. It is asking if you really do care about solving their problems. Or are they simply an opportunity for you to make some money?
This customer ‘Who’ is not just creating clear and predictable avatars and assessing how profitable you think any relationship you might be able to strike up could become. Because with the right talent, tenacity and techniques, anyone can do that. It’s about looking inside yourself. It really is asking yourself whether you care about them. That’s the special bit. Because that bit is unique to you. And you know what, I think that when you do take this approach – when you really, really care for the change you are trying to make for your customer – I think it shows.
The Second Who – Is You.
So we’ve covered insights and the first ‘who’. The first who is your customer. The people you really do care about. But the second who - is you. And that’s the part we were referring to at the beginning of this story. This bit: One of the strangest things to ever happen in business, is something that many owner managers and business leaders do to themselves. The effects of them doing it causes unhappiness. Anxiety. Confusion, even. And it happens a lot. This thing that owner managers do to themselves is this. They forget who they themselves want to become.
The ‘who’ that can very often get forgotten in business – is yourself. And you have to be very careful not to forget this ‘who’ because if you get the customer ‘who’ right, but helping that exact customer profile doesn’t fit with the kinds of people you really care about – that’s when the trouble starts. You’ve forgotten you. That’s why you feel unhappy, anxious and confused, even. That’s why owner managers – quite suddenly sometimes – don’t want to do it anymore. It’s because they forgot who they themselves actually wanted to become.
The Two Who’s of Business – Working Together.
So here is the key question. A double-barrelled question: Whatever business you are building, have a really good think about who you want to be – and to whom. Think about that carefully. Because it is clearly in two parts. The first ‘who’ can make a successful business. But it’s the second ‘who’ that makes a happy one.
So here is the key question. A double-barrelled question:
Whatever business you are building, have a really good think about who you want to be – and to whom.
Think about that carefully. Because it is clearly in two parts. The first ‘who’ can make a successful business. But it’s the second ‘who’ that makes a happy one.