Customer Research

So rather than approaching customer research and insight as a one-way street, business must increasingly open up the doors of consumer collaboration to make product development and marketing a co-creative partnership between business and buyer.

“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself” – Peter Drucker

Let’s take that one step at a time:

  1. Know what your prospect wants
  2. Prove you’ve got the goods

In my early days of learning direct response coywriting I remember reading something that has always stuck in my mind.

Copywriting is 80% research, only 20% writing the actual copy.

That is to say, to create effective sales copy, we must spend enough time to genuinely and deeply understand our ideal prospect. Only then can we know what we need to do to prove to our prospect that we really do have the goods.

If you wish to persuade me, you must think my thoughts, feel my feelings, and speak my words – Cicero, Roman Statesman

The copywriters processes of arriving at prospect insight includes:

  • Live prospect interaction, through customer service surveys, one to one interviews
  • Internal reflection – the copywriters process of putting themself in the shoes of the prospect and reflecting on the prospects beliefs, feelings and desires as if they were the copywriters own
  • Testing response in the market

Let’s take those one at a time:

Prospect interaction

Make the most of customer chatter to find out this information.

Listening rather than selling at the initial point of contact.

Internal reflection

Learn to think like your best custmers – by climbing inside the mind of the prospect. Create a storyline using these steps:

I’m a lot like you…

  • Shared aspiration or dream
  • Common frustrations (us vs them)
  • How your spokesman/company found/created the solution (loss and redemption)
  • And why you decided to share the solution (hometown boy makes good)

Real market testing

By ongoing tests you can gain insight into the most profitable customers for your business and become confident of the dominant emotions and desires that lead to the sale.

Your Prospects Core Complex

A model used by some of World’s largest direct mail publishing companies uses the model of identifying your prospects Core Complex – Made up of 3 components: Intellectual, Psychological, and Emotional.


What does my prospect believe (with relevance to my product/niche target). Does he believe, for example, that short-term day trading is risky, or difficult, or expensive (haha), or requires great time commitment, or should only be done with a small portion of their overall investment portfolio, or is the best thing since derivatives trading begun back in babylonia.

Knowing the prospects beliefs will help you built your aggressive marketing campaigns to lazer in on exactly the right things to say in your promotion copy.


But we don’t just want to stop at the prospects general beliefs. We want to get right under their skin and know exactly what is causing them pain, with regards to the product. Not just frustrations with other products in the market place, or problems they have with succeeding with whatever the product is supposed to help with, but also their life frustrations caused by any limitations in their success.


And finally of course I find out just what exactly is on the minds of my target prospects with regards to what they really want.

Your Prospects Pain

What pain in your prospects life are we going to solve through our product?

Pain always falls into 3 main categories

  • Financial
  • Strategic
  • Personal

To properly diagnose a prospects pain, you simply need to answer 4 questions:

  • What is the source of the most prominent pain?
  • What is the intensity of that pain?
  • What is the level of urgency requiring the pain to be solved?
  • Is the prospect consciously aware of the pain and its source?

Diagnosing pain is best performed through extensive market research, to explore and measure it fully.

Customer Profiles

You can then build genuine customer profiles, not just models based on demographics.

  • Demographics – social classifications such as age, gender, marital status, race, income, education
  • Geodemographics – with a specific community
  • Generational influences
  • Category cycle – attittude towards the product category
  • Market adaption cycle – innvoators, early adoptors, late adoptors, and laggards

VALS uses psychographics, a combination of psychology and demographics and segments customers according tounderlying psychology (self-orientation) and the resources (age, education, income, energy level, and self-confidence) they have available. See for the VALS survey.

The whole purpose of developing customer profiles is so that you can develop and execute personalised promotions.

And developing this 1:1 relationship with your customers elevates the lifetime value of each customer by retention through your products life cycle.

B2B Marketing Sidenote

Don’t make the mistake of thinking B2B copy should be flat, dry and boring. The copywriters process is very similar for consumer marketing or B2B marketing, because businesses are not customers – people are.

Aims of Prospect Insight Research

In general, customer want individualised respect, service, pride in their product choices, product options, and information to make informed decisions. As such, they tend to trust the vendors that provide them with information so that they can make better decisions.

Our aim is to establish:

  • product usage
  • purchasing behaviour / decision process
  • urgency of need
  • motivational influencers

More questions:

  • Who is your prospect? pretend your prospect is sitting across foryou
  • What does your prospects really want?
  • What is his or her hot point? What are the top fears and frustrations for your prospect?
  • What are their top wants and desires?

Motivational Influences

  • What things does your product(s) do or give your prosepcts that he or she doesn’t know about?
  • What are the primary motivators? (Status, leisure, convenience, advancement, pleasure, comfort, security, basic needs, self-reliance).
  • What are the most frequently used and influential information and refernce sources among your key customer groups?

Having developed your customer profiles, you will be able to proceed to the Conversion Stage in the Marketing Matrix, which includes relevant involvement devices and actual copywriting.

For now, you can return to the Market Research main page to continue.

About the Author Shawn