Want better research? Get your hands dirty.

Want more out of your research? Get your hands dirty.  Go guerrilla.  Go to where your customers and prospects are are.  Hang out where your target does real things in real-time under real conditions.  This is where you can have casual, comfortable, genuine conversations.  This is where you can walk in the shoes.  This is where your consumers are their absolute selves and act accordingly.  And where you can make observations and gather subtle insights that consumers would never even think to articulate, let alone be comfortable enough to mention in a more sterile or artificial research setting.

Image

By way of example, on a client assignment awhile back, we spent a couple of weeks with dog owners.  We hung out in dog parks, backyards and trails.  We tried products and lived life alongside people and their pets.  We learned a TON by experiencing what consumers experience…and by simply chatting people up.  We also learned by observing subtleties and taking note of the occasional frustrated look on a dog owner’s face…a cringe…a change in body language – things that people never think to say, even when you ask, but that are real.

The result: deeper insights that drove several new product innovations, with incremental national shelf space to match (and competitors who never saw any of it coming).  This can, and has worked with a variety of products, services, technology and start ups in all kinds of settings.  Just show up. Get your hands dirty.  And see what happens.

About the authors: Eric Greene & Keith Poulson are principals at Elevation (it’s different up here).  We are an innovation firm that specializes in A-Z new product/service/growth strategy development (including guerrilla research, opportunity I.D., brainstorming, concept development, industrial design, prototyping and engineering).  To learn more, go to: http://elevationid.com/

Focus groups pretty much suck

The notion that focus groups pretty much suck has crossed your mind.  Only now someone is saying it out loud.  Having spent over two decades in the innovation (new product, new service), marketing, growth strategy, entrepreneurial and industrial design spaces and having sat through countless, mind-numbing focus groups, I’ve learned the hard way.

Here are reasons why the traditional focus group may just be the LAST PLACE ON EARTH to gain game-changing insights into your consumers and their needs:

  • ImageTraditional focus group rooms have are dull, artificial, sterile and have two way glass.  The real world (outside of XXX shops and select Las Vegas venues), doesn’t have two way glass or any of the other features just mentioned.
  • Most groups will have a Bossy-Pants, gotta talk early and often, know it all who sets the tone for the rest of the group.  Regardless of what others think, many respond in agreement with said bossy-pants just to fit in.  Worse yet, others then just shut down altogether.  This toxic stew gains you close to zero in terms of real world, usable insight.
  • People don’t make purchases or decisions in a group that sits around a conference room table.  They think and act alone under real conditions in real settings.
  • It doesn’t help whatsoever that most people have a really hard time telling you exactly what they want in the first place.  If they could, innovation, “the cool factor” and new product/service development wouldn’t be such a damn riddle.  The unnatural, uncomfortable focus group setting only exacerbates this problem.

In summary, if you want to be bored silly, get fat eating too many backroom M & M’s, burn your budget and LEARN LESS THAN YOU SHOULD ABOUT YOUR CUSTOMERS, by all means continue to rely solely on traditional focus groups.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to be bored silly, get fat or blow money, add in some guerrilla to your research.  Nothing will help you see the challenges, feel the frustrations, gain insights and uncover opportunities faster than spending time with your customers/prospects in natural settings where they actually use products and services, experience brands and live life in real time.

More on this next time.

About the authors: Eric Greene & Keith Poulson are principals at Elevation (it’s different up here).  We are an innovation firm that specializes in A-Z new product/service/growth strategy development (guerrilla research, opportunity I.D., brainstorming, concept development, industrial design, prototyping, engineering).  To learn more, go to: http://elevationid.com/

Not just another blog

Just what you and the rest of the world have been waiting for – another blog.

Now before you click over to YouTube to check out the latest keyboard cat videos or TMZ.com to see which celebrity has embarrassed himself yet again (yes, I’m talking to you Snooki, Charlie Sheen and the Kardashians), we’d like to take a minute to tell you why we’re here. We’re here to share our thoughts about product development and innovation with you.

We’re here to help you think of the world in new ways.

We’re here to help you find market opportunities you didn’t know existed.

We’re here to help you uncover insights about your customers that open new doors.

We’re here to share news about emerging technologies, techniques, and trends.

We’re here to champion ingenious research, kick ass brainstorming, great design, elegant engineering and flawless execution.

We’re here to question the status quo.

We’re here to make you think.

And finally, we feel we wouldn’t be doing our job very well if we didn’t at least occasionally make you laugh.

This blog is about passing on our decades of combined new product development and innovation expertise. It’s about opening up a window to our world and sharing insights into our successes and failures. It’s about creating a place where we can start discussions and spark new ideas. It’s about giving you a peek into the diabolical minds of our engineers, designers, strategists and researchers.

What this blog is not about is selling you stuff. It won’t be a shameless self-promotion for our people, the projects we complete, or our latest “proprietary process.”

If you’re interested in what we have to say, bring it on and tell us. If you want to add to the discussion, join in. If you disagree, that’s okay. We only ask that you do so respectfully. You can follow us on Twitter @elevationid or connect with us on Linked In and we’ll let you know when we have new information to share. It won’t be every day (hey, we have projects to complete and clients to make happy). But when we have something we find interesting, we’ll share it with you.

Thanks for taking the time and back at ya soon.