People assume that marketing is all about how to talk, but really marketing is about communication.
And a good communicator knows how to talk AND listen.
Listening in the world of marketing = market research.
Today I’m interviewing Thamsanqa (aka Thami) Ndlovu, founder of Datadvise Market Research, to talk about how to *easily* bring
listening market research into your business.
If something is in (parentheses), it’s added in by me! 😊
Rachel: Thami, I’m excited to dive into market research with you! What’s the #1 mistake you see solopreneurs make when it comes to market research?
📊 Thami: There are actually two things I have generally seen. The first misstep is that they do not conduct the research entirely. Entrepreneurs tend to be so passionate about their ideas that they believe that they will hit a home run by executing without research. (yes, yes, yes, I see this all the time!!!)
Unfortunately, that leads to disastrous results. Nothing is new under the sun, and most likely, someone somewhere has executed that idea and you may need to pivot or be sensitive to the market dynamics, insights you can find through research.
The second mistake is that they assume they cannot do it themselves. Market research can be surprisingly intuitive, simple, and inexpensive. There are tools to help with almost every aspect they need to research, and with generative AI, this has become all the more easier.
Rachel: If you were starting from scratch, what would be the first 3 things you would do to research your ideal customer before starting?
- Understand the problem that you are solving. What pain points does your product/service address? This exercise will help you to have a skeletal picture of your target, which you can then verify through further research.
- Figure out who your direct competitors are, that is, companies that solve for the exact problem in a similar way. A quick Google search would reveal this.
- Look at the customer segments that the competitors serve. If you have a company that serves the same group of people as you and who have the same pain points, then most likely your ideal customer looks the same. This will help you to verify any initial assumptions you may have had, and adjust them as needed.
Rachel: Many solopreneurs skip market research because they think it’ll take too much time or be too expensive. How do they keep things speedy and cost effective?
📊 Thami: There are several online tools to help with this, like –
- SurveyMonkey for surveys
- Similarweb for web traffic analysis
- SEMRush for SEO, competitor analysis, keyword research, etc.
The point is, there are several easy-to-use tools that are a web search away and can assist with solving several questions that entrepreneurs may have in a cost effective way. There may be a short learning curve regarding how to use them, but most are fairly easy to grasp.
(Even a simple IG Poll survey can be a great start if the tools from above feel super overwhelming)
Rachel: How often should a solopreneur be doing research and listening to their customer base or audience?
📊 Thami: Trends change all the time. We experienced a seismic shift after the pandemic, and consumer preferences have evolved and continue to evolve all the time.
I think at the end of each calendar year, it is worthwhile to take stock of what you have observed over the course of the year and evaluate any changes you may have seen in consumer behavior.
Did they start purchasing a certain product more than others? Did their consumption channels change from, say, online to retail?
All of this will be useful in deciding what to change in your business in the upcoming year. For instance, your inventory may change based on shifting purchasing data.
(You may not have inventory, but maybe you noticed a shift in the % of offerings people buy from. If your cleanse drove more revenue/profit than your retreat, maybe you’ll shift to run your cleanse more often or dedicate more marketing to it!)
Rachel: I know from working with you that you have some great examples to share. Can you share a story of how a surprising research insight completely changed a client’s offering or marketing strategy?
📊 Thami: This happens a lot in product development, where clients are building new software solutions. They tend to start off with a vision to go one way, but after research, the facts may lead them to develop something completely different.
I have seen this happen dozens of times. I always tell the story of how we helped a tech client in the web conferencing space completely change its product offering for the small business segment. They had a complicated tool that had a clunky architecture, was too expensive and harder to set up for small clients.
Our research revealed that there was a lack of product-market-fit with the small businesses, and so they had to do a complete overhaul of that offering, but with great results.
Rachel: OK, now time for the fun questions. What’s your favorite place in the world and why?
📊 Thami: I love New York City! I fell in love with it when I lived in Brooklyn around 2017. I love most metros, but New York has a uniquely infectious go-getter feel to it.
Rachel: What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done or would like to do?
📊 Thami: I have been putting off sky diving for a while now. I need to do so before the year is over!
(I highly recommend it! One of the best experiences I’ve ever had)
Rachel: Thing you’re most excited about in your own business right now?
📊 Thami: I am most excited about the growth opportunities in the coming year. This year has been a trial by fire, as we started our initial expansion efforts. We’ve learned a lot by trying new things, failing forward and doing so fast. We are rebuilding from a position of experience, which I think makes it all the more exciting.
We were also thrilled to be recently recognized as one of the Top 10 Market Research firms of 2023 in the US. We only hope to get better!
More on Thami:
Thami is the Founder and CEO of Datadvise Market Research. Datadvise helps marketing agencies and SaaS businesses increase sales, influence, and innovation using competitive intelligence and market research. Hailing from the city of Bulawayo (Zimbabwe), his global perspective has propelled him to the forefront of his field, where he’s reshaping the research field. With a formidable combination of a JD and MBA, Thami has achieved remarkable feats, ascending to become part of the top 1% of Market Research and Competitive Intelligence experts in the world.
Before founding Datadvise, Thami carved a path through some of the world’s leading management consulting firms, such as PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and Investor Group Services. In these roles, he worked hand in hand with C-Suite leaders, providing market research insights that fueled private equity and venture capital decisions in intricate mergers and acquisitions.