Artists & Fleas started International Women’s Day off right this year by hosting Artists & Eats: Celebrating Women Entrepreneurs at their Soho location in NYC. The evening before, participating food and other A&F vendors were invited for a happy hour with a bonus – an expert discussion surrounding Customer Feedback and Market Research.
The all-female rock-star panel did not disappoint the intrepid entrepreneurs who sipped bubbly while outside Winter Storm Riley was pummeling New York. On hand were Alice Chin, founder and CEO of Your Other Half, a small business consulting firm focused on creating growing, stable organizations; Hannah Hager, co-founder and CMO at TrySome, a market research company that gathers feedback on organic packaged goods samples from conscientious consumers; and Mary McGovern, who has 20+ years of global CPG brand management experience and is the former Managing Director of the PlantBased Solutions marketing agency. Patricia Duffy, marketing strategy consultant and Curator of Foodmaker Campaigns for Women You Should Fund, facilitated the conversation.
Backing recommendations with real-world examples of successes and failures, panelists emphasized the importance of seeking out and heeding customer input as early and as often as possible. However, too many entrepreneurs fail to do this and make key decisions (packaging, distribution, targeting) that cost them dearly down the line. Here’s a look at some key nuggets from the discussion:
GET ACTIONABLE INPUT FROM THE RIGHT AUDIENCE(S):
- Validate your target market; don’t make assumptions about who is buying your product and why.
- Friends and family are not valid targets.
- Ask specific questions of qualified customers that enable informed decisions.
- Get feedback anonymously so that it will be honest.
- Do not wait for everything to be “perfect” before gathering input.
- Enable dialogue with your customers to gain feedback and build relationships.
DEDICATE EFFORTS TO TRULY KNOW AND LOVE YOUR CUSTOMERS
- Observe, analyze and listen to create an avatar of your target customer(s).
- Build on the avatar(s) over time; again don’t wait until everything is perfect.
- Don’t be afraid to commit to a niche and work it.
- Go beyond demographics to understand the human elements; what (and who) drives behavior and decisions.
YES, YOU CAN AFFORD TO DO MARKET RESEARCH!
- Be creative with technology; tap into online polling/surveying tools that work for you.
- Utilize your own online presence to gain feedback.
- Consider the value that bringing in a pro can provide – saving valuable time, doing it right and moving you ahead more quickly.
- Recognize how research can come from your day-to-day customer interactions. Favorite example of the night: Work a market to test your pricing; if 8 in 10 buy -- your price is probably to low; if 2 in 10 buy -- your price is too high!
BEING AN ENTREPRENEUR CAN BE HARD – AND LONELY – BUT DON’T FORGET SOME BUSINESS BASICS
- PLAN; map out your vision and what it will take to get there from the beginning – even though it may change.
- COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS cannot be overlooked; without it, how can you differentiate your product?
- Let go and delegate when you can; it’s impossible to do it all if you want to grow.
Check out some more images from Artists & Eats!
Written by Patricia Duffy