How to get market insight


Russell Conwell was a Civil War veteran who went on to become a Baptist minister and a celebrated orator. He was also the founder of Temple University.

His life story is engrossing, with tales of alleged desertion, sacrifice and heroism.

But his fame rose spectacularly with a talk he gave called “Acres of Diamonds”.

In this lecture, he tells the tale of an Arab man who went to faraway lands seeking his fortune, spending years in hardship…only to discover later that his backyard had been full of buried diamonds all that time.

But he had no clue…so he never bothered to look.

I’m reminded of this story many times in the context of marketing.

Are you seeking the Holy Grail of marketing too? The secret passcode to your prospects’ hearts.

You don’t need to go far to find it – you’re sitting on a big heap of treasure right where you are – and you’re handed even more of this stuff every single day – whether you realize it or not. 

The Secret Sauce of Marketing

What makes marketing powerful, irresistible and compelling?

Think about your own life and the companies who make the products you love.

You like them because they seem to speak singularly to you in a way that strikes at the heart of how you feel and what you need.

They use the precise words, the tone, the cadence in a way that makes them a natural participant in the conversation going on in your head.

They offer you the exact thing that scratches your itch.

If you want to be as compelling to your market, you must do what they do well – you must nail this deep understanding of what’s at the heart of your prospects’ needs if you want to succeed.  

  • Their primary triggers
  • Their need for a solution – in emotional AND rational terms
  • Fears, concerns and anxieties
  • “Wishlist” for an ideal remedy

You may think you can’t access that kind of insight without spending a fortune on “market research”. 

Not true.

Like the Arabian traveler in Conwell’s story, you’re sitting on a mine of diamonds right in your figurative backyard – if you only look for it.

Want to know how? Read on.

How to get market insight

Photo by dylan nolte 

Three Steps to Your Treasure

To access your own treasure, you need to:

  1. Understand exactly what it looks like
  2. Dig in the right place
  3. Use it where it’s worth the most

Step 1: Identify What You Need.

You’re looking for the list of things that are most vital to moving your prospects to action:

  • The worries and anxieties triggered their unease to being with
  • The emotional relief they’re looking for, to relieve their stress
  • The things they feel most ignorant and therefore most worried about
  • Their biggest objections and hesitations to moving forward with you 
  • The buried reasons that make them say “yes” to moving forward with you (usually emotional)
  • The silent killers make them walk away
  • The “happily ever after” picture they seek to experience

With this list, you’ll be able to spot the real stuff from the ore when you start digging, so don’t skip it.

Step 2: Dig in the Right Spot

Here’s the key to unlocking Conwell’s secret: the closer you are to the horse’s mouth, the greater the value of the “treasure”, i.e. unfiltered, direct market insight.

Your best source of insight is people you already deal with every day: your clients and your prospects

Each day – across prospect calls, meetings, and client touch bases, your target audience is telling you exactly what they fear, need, and want.

  • I turned 50 last month” – means that milestone birthdays are triggers
  • How does this process work?” – means they’re looking for emotional reasons to say yes
  • What will the results look like?” –  means they want logical reasons for buying

But this is not all. There’s a lot more free and valuable information you can gain from the real world.

In my experience, the best of these are book reviews, followed by forums such as reddit.

Pro tip: I’ve found book reviews to give you the best cost-benefit payoff for financial topics.

For example, I once studied 143 book reviews across three books on the subject of women and investing and came away with a clear picture of the top 6 things women wanted from investment related information – the entire exercise took me only about an hour and a half and cost zero money – a pretty attractive  payoff.

How to get customer insight

Step 3: Use It With Impact

Here’s how:

Look for specific words and turns of phrase:

These are what capture the heart of the prospect’s mindset. For example, in talking about retirement planning, you might hear phases like these:

  • “Get my ducks in a row”
  • “Don’t know what I don’t know – and that worries me”
  • “The thing that keeps me up at night is…”

These are the phrases and words you want to use in communicating with prospects and clients as much as possible. You’ll see the results when the light bulb goes off in their minds.

Use them in as many channels as possible including:

  • Direct conversations with prospects
  • Blog posts, newsletters and other prospect and client communications
  • Your web pages, specifically those that talk about “Who We Serve” and “Our Offering”

Make the system automatic.

  • Create a short survey form with 5-6 questions that prompt responses on the biggest topics – even a Google form is plenty.
  • Automate or arrange for your team to answer this on some regular basis, perhaps every 4-6 weeks.
  • Review the results to see if any changes or warranted, or better, any new trends or nuggets emerge.

You may be surprised at the glittering treasure that show up.

What treasure are you going to mine next?

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