When interviewing customers to determine their needs, take the time to also ask them where they get information that keep them up-to-date in their profession.
1) Are there organizations that they regard in high regard that a recommendation from such organizations is considered valued?
2) What magazines do they read frequently?
3) Do they have a blog?
4) Do they read blogs? Which ones?
5) Do they read or contribute online discussion forums?
6) Are there places which your customer absolutely disrespects or would not want to have any association with?
7) Do they read analyst reports – like Gartner, Yankee Group, IDC etc.
You want to find out where they hang out professionally online and offline. This is because if and when you build a product/service that solves their needs, you want to make sure that the new product/service is promoted well where your potential customers hang out. So, there is more to learn in customer interviews than just the unmet needs – take it as an opportunity to profile your customer very well.
5 thoughts on “Where do your customers get information?”
Where customers get information is an issue on the requirements capture side of the equation and on the marketing and selling side of the business. If you cannot rely on marketing to know where the customers live, how can you rely on marketing to market to those customers once the product is built. I understand your orientation towards your career, but your career is tied to your organization. Unless you are going to do the marketing and sales yourself, you have to rely on marketing. As the CEO of the product you cannot succeed unless the entire organization succeeds.
You should be able to ask marketing, because they have been there longer, long before the organization thought to hire product managers.
There have been places where I worked where marketing and the product manager where wrong about their market. You can still be talking to the wrong people even if you are talking to them in person.
I am very hesitant to depend on internal folks such as marcom to tell me where customers get information, unless they can show me the data (otherwise it could just be a SWAG on their part). In my career, I have been approached by these same people asking for customer profiles, because they knew I was talking to real customers.
I agree surveys is the easiest way to get this answer.
Excellent points, Gopal.
We ask our customers a survey question along these lines, and it has helped us learn a lot about where *NOT* to advertise! 🙂
Your post gives me a couple of ideas to improve our question further. Thanks.
Accompa – Affordable requirements management software for PMs
Where they get their information will depend on the market you find them in. Technical enthusiasts (geeks) will get their information in places where an economic buyer wouldn’t go. Consumers find their information in their own places as well. Let the technology adoption lifecycle guide you, as you look for their channels, and information ecologies. Your marcom people should be able to tell you where your target customer reads. Ask them. And, once you have customers, as your customers. Ask them as a regular component of the surveys you send them via your permission e-mail newsletter campaign.
Great suggestion to ask customers where they get their information. I’ve met with many customer but have never tried your approach. I will put this into my toolbox for the next round.