A couple of years ago, I ran two marketing research projects that took me all over the country doing focus groups. Of the two projects, one involved talking to contractors about a potential new product. The other project involved talking to homeowners about their water systems and options that were currently available. We had to had to keep them separate which meant we couldn’t just run one meeting in each city, but we did run both sessions back-to-back in the same room in order to minimize our expense.
We accomplished our mission, but we also found an unexpected benefit from this proximity: we got a big lesson on perspective.
Throughout our conversations with contractors, we heard a lot about how these guys do business, what (they think) their customers think, and why they do things they way they do. In our conversations with homeowners, we learned a lot about what they know, more about what they don’t know, and what they really want. When we compared those different conversations, we found that contractors didn’t always know their customers as well as they thought they did. In fact in some cases, they were at complete odds with one another. We had stumbled upon a gulf wider than the Grand Canyon. Continue reading