By Rex Hammock
If you paid attention to Steve Jobs’ career in real-time (or read any books or saw any movies about him), you know there are actually two Steve Jobs. One is the “mythological” Steve Jobs and the other is the “real” Steve Jobs.
The mythological Steve Jobs is famous for being dismissive of market research. This version came from admirers who cherry-picked some of his famous quotes such as this one: “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them. That’s why I never rely on market research. Our task is to read things that are not yet on the page.”
It’s this mythological Jobs we all find compelling. But, in reality, Apple’s success has always been nurtured through the product development process with all forms of research. And likewise, most of Apple’s failures can be traced to the company’s leadership choosing to ignore market research.
Both versions of research that reflect Jobs and Apple are accurate, but they are out of context. Research is a bit like a seesaw, with a balancing amount of Steve Jobs on both ends.
The Idea Takeaway | Four Ways to Correctly Use Market Research
1. Don’t obsess over metrics that don’t matter. | If you are a business-to-business marketer and already know the key decision makers in your industry, don’t obsess over research about your Snapchat engagement.
2. Don’t conduct a new type of research just because everyone else is. | Every organization needs to understand their unique reasons for conducting research—and the unique types of research that will enable you to reach that goal.
3. Become obsessed with metrics that reveal the cause of customers’ pain points. | We’ve shared it before, and we’ll share it again: At the software company Intuit, employees say, “We fall in love with a customer’s problem, not with our solution.” In other words, don’t invest too much in research that’s merely getting customers to confirm what you already know. Research the things that keep them up at night and work on that problem instead.
4. Be like Steve Jobs. Be like Apple. | Indeed, Steve Jobs often displayed the magic someone must possess to “read things that were not yet on the page.” But Apple’s success—as well as your company’s success—depends on another kind of magic revealed by obsessively seeking the precise insight that only research can reveal.
Photo: Apple Inc.
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