You can read the entire blog post here.

Abbey Teunis is the Founder and Director of Embark Insight.

She works for companies, speaking to their potential customers on their behalf to get an insight on what they think about their brand, products and advertising.

I’ve talked about research and validation before and I was so delighted to meet Abbey, as she really is an expert in this area.

Listen in to hear:

  • What Embark Insight is and what Abbey does (1:30)
  • How you know who your ideal customer is (3:35)
  • What do you need to know about your customer and how do you find it out (5:19)
  • How you can build up a customer profile yourself (9:15)
  • How you go about doing face-to-face research (11:43)
  • Abbey’s thoughts on whether you can do all your research online (13:20)
  • Why you need to do product research and what you’ll get out of it (16:00)
  • The two mistakes people make when carrying out their own research – and what the impact is (17:45)
  • What are good questions to ask if you’re doing market research yourself (22:54)
  • How to go about pricing your product (25:09)
  • Abbey’s top advice for aspiring product creators (29:53)

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Transcript
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Welcome to the Bring Your Product Ideas to Life podcast,

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practical advice and inspiration to help you create and sell

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your own physical products. Here's your host Vicki Weinberg

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thank you so much for tuning in today. I know

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that I've talked about research and validating your product ideas

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before. In fact, I've talked about this in quite a

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few episodes, and I was absolutely delighted to meet today's

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guest as she really is an expert in this field.

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I certainly think that there's something that I can learn

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from her, and I hope that you can learn something

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from her te so Abbey Teunis is the founder and

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director of Embark Insight. She helps me to have a

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medium sized businesses, analyze their customers so they can make

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informed, confident marketing decisions that help them connect to their

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ideal customers and create products that meet their customer's needs

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without spending hours doing it themselves, or spending a fortune.

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And what are the key is actually going to talk

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to us today is about if you haven't got the

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budget to put, to use a service like hers, what

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are the ways that you can go about doing market

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research and customer research yourself?

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And she was also going to talk about the importance

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of carrying out that kind of research. So I really

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hope you find this conversation useful. And let me hand

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you over to Abbey Welcome Abby, could you tell us

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a little bit about Embark and what you do?

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Of course. So basically to say it in the simplest

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way possible, I help businesses make smarter business decisions by

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helping them understand their customers. So this is typically done

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with a variety of market research techniques, things that most

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people would be familiar with, like surveys, focus groups, and

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interviews that are not to dissimilar to what we are

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actually doing now. So all quite, quite informal in some

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respects, quite conversational, ultimately to try to get to what

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people are really thinking, really believing, really feeling about whatever

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topic we're talking about. So if I was to try

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and summarize what the majority of my business is, typically

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the questions I help my clients on set, I guess,

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fall into three broad areas.

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So the first is add to testing and evaluating weather,

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the adverts that they have designed achieve the objective that

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they wanted them to achieve. And really what that boils

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down to is whether they connect to in resonate with

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their target customer is and how we can optimize that

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and make them do the job better. The second big

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area is Product testing, obviously, where are we doing this,

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this task today and evaluating whether they should launch a

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new product ideas, or if they need more work before

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they, should they go into production or before they launch

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them. And the third big area is around brand development.

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So basically what strategic elements clients need to focus on

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when they are building a brand and if that's the

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starting point of their journey, or if they are developing

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and maintaining their brand.

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So yeah, that's What I did.

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So yes, is that to make sure that if I

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had a, a month that they saw me understanding it.

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So you work for companies and you speak to their

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potential customers to get an idea of all of the

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things that you've just outlined, two boxes. Are you working

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a full cup for all companies and speaking to that,

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tend to customers. Does that sum it up? Perfect. And

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say, how do you sort of know who the company's

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ideal customer is? Is that something they come to you

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with? Or is that something you work with them on

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identifying

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a little bit of both was actually, so it depends

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on where they are at, in their journey and where

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they come from. So I have worked with companies that

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are start-ups and they are still working out to their

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target customer. Actually it is. And I would then help

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them in the research to identify who that is by

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having a look at things like who, who, who finds

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their idea appealing, but it's not only who finds it

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appealing because you also need to look at it from

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the business side. So things like what is the minimum

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price that they are willing to sell it to it

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and who can actually afford that product.

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So it's a little bit of an art. When you

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add that early stage of developing the picture of the

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ideal customer of who would you like to speak to

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you as well as who can afford it. And then

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who actually finds it appealing. And I guess finding the

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sweet spot in all of that. So I've worked with

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clients at that very early stage. And once we've got

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that works with them to articulate what their brand story

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is to appeal to those people and then companies that

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are more established typically know who they are, or have

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a broad idea of who their target customer is. Do

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they often come to me with that? So it's a

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bit of both to be quite honest.

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Okay. So I've got a few questions if that's OK.

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Just following on from that. So the first one is

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to say, so when we talked about the idea of

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customer, so that can be viewed that it's definitely, you

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know, as a starting point is not being who the

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customer is for your product in this example. So what

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kinds of things do you think you should know about

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your ideal customer and how would you go about finding

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this out? So if someone was listening to this podcast

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is thinking that we haven't done anything, you don't have

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to inform us about my customer. What kind of questions

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should they be asking?

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So the first question they should be answering for themselves

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as who they want to talk to you, who they

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think it's the right person for It now, presumably when

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somebody going out and designing and developing a product, they

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have identified that there is a need that exists or

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a problem that needs solving. And that's the starting point

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who has that problem, who has that issue. So I

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think a lot of that at that early stage is

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about your own intuition. And you've decided to develop a

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product for a very good reason. You use your intuition.

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You've got to experience that. Don't, don't put that aside

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as less important once you've got that. And once you've

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got your picture of what price you're willing to sell

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at the very most in any event, and you've got

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a picture of that, then I think that there are,

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I'd say four key questions.

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You need to be able to answer about your ideal

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customer. The first is an associate economic ones. So this

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is their personal or a household income education working status,

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that sort of profile, because that ultimately informs what they

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are affordability is and what their needs are and how

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involved they are going to be and making a decision.

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The next thing as demographics, obviously, if that is relevant

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for your product. So demographics, I mean, things like age,

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gender, location, that sort of thing. Now, personally, I think

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that this, these demographic words, or, you know, you need

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to be included or if it's relevant for Your for

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your service of your product. So for example, gender is

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not relevant for my service.

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So when I think about my ideal customer, I don't

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think about agenda because as a business, you need to

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make smarter business decisions can be either gender, but if

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your product is targeting, Matton's obviously there's a, there's an

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agenda demographic that you need to be considering them. The

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third thing that I would say, people should be considering

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as what the attitudes towards your category actually are. So

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let's say you got a health Product, so they liked

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green juice. So your, your, your product is a green

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juice, or you might want to think about how people

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feel about that category as a whole, the health category.

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So maybe you would say, I want to target people

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who always searched for a low sugar products or only

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wanted to have pure drinks that have no added ingredients

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or something like that.

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So starting to get a profile of how they feel

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about your category and your wider category. So the health

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category and that example, and then things started getting really

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fun is actually having to think about how they feel

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about life as a whole. And this is where you

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can start playing with things like their values. What's important

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to them, what drives the decisions that they make and

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that sort of thing. And once you've got that part,

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which is actually the hardest part I'd say to get,

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but once you've got that and he started building that

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profile, you can actually start creating communications and articulate in

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your brand story, in creating products that really resonate with

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those people, because you're tapping into who they are as

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people.

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I've got a great example of that. Actually it was

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a project I was working on with a startup design,

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a shoe company, and they, it was at the end

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of last year. So they are still in the launch

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phase. Unfortunately, things have been halted a little bit with

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production in Italy at the moment, but they are, they

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were looking at who their target audience was on. One

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of the key values at Kmart in their ideal customer

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was independence. And so we actually worked together about how

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to articulate their brand story, to connect on that independence

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value level. And ultimately what she decided to do was

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instead of using the brand name that had been her

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working brand name up until that point, she actually decided

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to rather to tell her own story of why she

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was launching a company and changed the name to her

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name.

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So it really connected on that, on that value level.

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Now, your other question was how people can actually go

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about doing this and especially if they are not going

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to be conducting for more market research. I think there

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are a number of ways that you can do it

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and actually build a really positive and strong and robust

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profile. The first is by observing your ideal client. And

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all you need to do is get it a little

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bit creative about thinking where they are now, obviously at

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the moment we're all online. And that doesn't mean that

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you're ideal customer, isn't busy interacting with your categories. So

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you would just need to think about where they are.

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Social media is absolutely fantastic for that Facebook groups around

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certain topics or thriving.

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So getting yourself into those Facebook groups and observing what

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they're doing, what they talking about, what questions they are

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asking about can help you to start creating a picture

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of what's important to you. Then what they're looking for

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when we were out of lockdown, obviously going and observing

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them in the real world is fantastic. And I think

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they're two sides of this going and looking at them

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in the category interactions. So if I stick with the

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green juice example, maybe you can go to Holland and

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Barrett and see what people are doing at the shop.

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Come to us at the shop shelf. We've been having

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a look at what's actually on the shelf and which

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brands have the most prominence, what colors are those brands

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have? What marks out in your category, seeing how your

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ideal customer is interacting with your category, but also trying

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to find them somewhere else, because they are consumers of

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other things too.

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So your green juice person, if I'm going to take

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a really obvious example, might also be going to yoga

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studios or doing park runs. And I might also be

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going to the PAB and trying to understand that there's

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contradictions is actually a way you can start creating really

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interesting profile of their person. Cause you said you moved

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from being in a wooden puppet to a real person.

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I'm so sorry to interrupt. That'd be so they can

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see how you have to be able to see that

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on nine. So I think Facebook groups are a great

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way of finding out information, especially if you use a

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search function and you can search for a certain key

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word. So things around you, your products, or when the

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kids get into, just to see what people are actually

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talking about, how would you see a bit in my

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own life? How would you suggest you go around observing?

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What do you actually have conversations with people? Or would

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you simply, what cha how would you suggest someone? What

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to do that? If they wanted to do it themselves?

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I think a little bit of both, it depends on

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how bold their feeling. I would certainly start with just

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pure observations, seeing what they're doing and just getting a

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sense of, you know, even really small things. People don't

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think about it, but what clothes they're wearing, are they

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more formal? Are they more informal? Because that starts giving

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you a picture of this sort of language that you

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can use. If you know that they are someone who

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is a bit more formal, someone who is a bit

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more informal, and it gives you an idea of what

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they're doing in their spare time, or, you know, let's

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say you were observing your ideal customer. Are you hanging

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around Holland and Barrett in your observing your ideal customer?

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And they repeatedly coming in in an active way and

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you can stop making some assumptions about what that looks

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like, what they are working days.

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There they are quite possibly not working in corporate, for

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example. So you can stop making some assumptions. And then

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once you've got that basic picture, absolutely. If you've got

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the guts to go and ask them, if you can

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ask a few questions either while they are standing there,

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or once they've walked out. But when thing with being

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in shops is sometimes shops get a little bit funny

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about you coming in, harassing as they view it as

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their customers, so that you do need to potentially be

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a little bit sneaky with that. But generally I find

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most people are quite open to it. If you're just

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going to have a quick five minute conversation about something

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that they've already done, cause more often than not is

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something that they care about.

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And for anyone who's listening to this, and it was

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just on the floor, all of this and spelling that

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with dreads because they know that there will be some

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people who are thinking, Oh, I don't think I could

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do that. Would you say that you can get enough

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out of doing your customer research online?

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I think it gives you a starting point. It gives

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you a, a, a picture of what's going on in

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the language they using. And if you want to put

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in questions into those Facebook groups or that sort of

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thing, to help start building up their profile and seeing

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what people answer. I think you do get enough to

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then take that forward on your own body and your

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own intuition and building on it. Because ultimately when you

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develop in your ideal customer, it's not, you know, what

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you're ultimately aiming for is a really robust picture almost

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of one person that it's not based on only one

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person. So you are creating an avatar as such.

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So you all are going to do part of that

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on your own assumptions. And I think to build on

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your point about people listening to that and being filled

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with dread, and I can totally see that when I

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first started doing this job, the thought of going and

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approaching people to do interviews was singularly. What are the

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most off-putting things about this career? And I think that

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there are other ways that you can do it, like

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analyzing your own customer base. If you've already got a

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customer base and having a look at who those people

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are, who are your typical purchases? Are you looking at

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any interactions that you have had with your, with your

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existing customers or potential customers and how they spoke or

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what sort of questions they were asking you?

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And that can be things obviously on social media, but

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also email phone, if you're lucky enough to have somebody

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like a call center. So Actually, you can start from

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data that already exists. And the other place that you

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can go to is talking to people that sell your

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product. So all places that you'd like your product to

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be sold. So going to them, if you know that

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you're going to be going onto a market place or

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aiming to get on to a marketplace in any way,

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then you can go and talk to them and get

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a picture of the sorts of customers. They've got that,

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how they see there, the profile of their customers, and

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use that to, to build your own.

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Fantastic point. Thank you. This is a really great idea

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because I know for me the thought of actually going

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in and talking to people in their life, w we're

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not talking to people in your life, it's talking to

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him about it, you know, asking the questions. Yeah. That

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terrifies me. So I'm glad that for those of us,

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you know, on it may be comfortable doing that level

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of alternatives for me to want to take a step

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back, because I think it might be good to actually

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talk a little bit about the importance of actually doing

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research. So, you know, what, how and why we need

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to do any kind of product research in the first

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place and what you'll get out of it. So are

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you okay to talk about that a little bit, please?

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Oh, of course. It's something that I'm quite passionate about.

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You'll be surprised tonight. Now, one thing that I do,

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I do notice having done an incubator workshops myself, and

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it just generally being on a lot of small business

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forums is that I think a lot of people are

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very aware of the need to do market research. And

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I hear a lot of people talking about, Oh, you

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need to ask your customer, definitely talk to your customer

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and make sure you connect connecting with your customer. So

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I think that this is a brilliant starting point that

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people had a flat awareness. It feels like that part

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of the education job doesn't necessarily need to be done.

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I think the problem is that the research isn't always

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done in the best way possible to say that the

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most diplomatic way that I can.

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And, and I think the problem with it is when

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research isn't done properly, it means that you're not getting

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the right answers to your questions. And when you then

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going and making a big business decisions, whether you should

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launch a product or what price do you should put

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it at, then you are making a big business decisions

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on incorrect information. And that terrifies me. If I knew

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that I was making business decisions on something that was

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quite big, that was based on information that was false.

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That would make me feel really uncomfortable. And before me,

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it was a lot of it just come from. So

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I think that's probably one of the biggest problems when

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you get all enthusiastic, if you go out and do

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your research, but your not actually doing it in the

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best way possible and where I've seen typically the biggest

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mistake is coming from our, in two areas.

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So who people are choosing to interview or survey and

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how they are actually going about doing it. So if

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we started with whom, I think, you know, you take,

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you take somebody who has got a kid. I need

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to do market research. Yes, I'm all over this. I'm

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going to go and make myself a little survey on

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survey monkey or type for maybe I'll do a focus

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group from my kitchen and I'll call it so far.

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So good. The problem is they are often doing that

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with family and friends. And the first problem with that

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is often those family and friends, aren't actually their ideal

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customer. Now let's assume let's take that problem out of

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the equation. So they had decided I'm not going to

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interview my grand dad because he is not my ideal

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customer, but you know, the rest of my friends, they

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definitely my ideal customer.

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Now the problem is if they are too close to

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your story, your context to give true and genuine feedback.

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So what ends up happening is one of two things,

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either they are overly positive because they wanted to make

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you feel good or they overly negative because they don't

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want you to fail. So they are very, very cautious.

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I'm on your behalf. And on top of that, because

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they're so close to your context, they know what effort

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you've put in, and they know all of the values

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and morals and ethics that you've got. And so they,

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when they evaluate your product and give you feedback, they

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are giving it to you with all of that context

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in mind, of course, your real life customer wouldn't know

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all of that when they saw your product.

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So they'd see it or make a snap decision about

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whether it's for them or not. So going and interviewing

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your friends and family, whilst it gives you some more

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answers is not going to give you a real life.

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A reflection of what your actual customers would do is

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I think a great example of this is innocent smoothies

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before innocent launched, they actually surveyed their family and friends

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and all one of their family members told them not

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to do it, that it was too risky. And at

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that point it was a completely new category and ready

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to drink drinks. So they are family. You said, you

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guys can not quit your day job. You cannot go

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that way because it's too much the market isn't ready

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to, you know, that would just be an overly cautious

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on their behalf.

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And thank goodness they didn't listen to them because they

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started an entirely new category that didn't exist before. So

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that's the first, thank you. That one.

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That's a great story. I heard that one. Before and

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I'm sure there are so many stories like that out

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there as well.

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And I'm sure there are other, and unfortunately I'm sure

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there may be any failure stories that we don't hear

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'em because those brands didn't make it.

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Yeah, absolutely. So what was the second, the second set

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of people do wrong?

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The second thing is how they go about doing that

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research. So I think the main or primary issue with

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that, how you actually asked the questions and this probably

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what I hear a lot of people say, when we

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talk about market research is how bad it's just a

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conversation. It was just asking questions. I do that all

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the time. Yes, absolutely. But if you want to get

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your questions are out there in the best way possible.

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The problem is they are often see people ask him

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questions at all, somewhat leading set. An example of that

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would be, do you like this product? Or do you

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love this product now, implicit in that question is the

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assumption that they liked the product at all.

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And so what ends up happening is do you have

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a question that slightly leading it's not been framed in

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the best way possible, and you end up getting overly

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positive results. So you find a mentally actually effecting what

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your results could be. So what you should rather be

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doing is asking something that's much more open. Like, how

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do you feel about this product and what made you

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answer that? Yeah. So coming back to that innocence story,

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they Actually, after doing the research with their family and

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friends obviously decided they actually believed in their own idea

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and they were going to still take it forward. They

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went to a music festival and had a sample stand.

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They had to sign above the sample, down to asking

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people if they thought that they should give up their

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day jobs and makes movies and that they had two

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bins where people could pass the empty bottles once they

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finished drinking them.

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When that's APS someone that said no so really simple

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way of finding out how are people thought or what

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people thought of their product and very simple, very non-leading.

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And it gave them a positive answer ultimately. And in

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the end, when they launched, of course, what it did

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miss and what they couldn't have known was where that

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everyone who traveled it was their ideal customer. And what

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they couldn't have known was why people say, you know,

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if they did say, you know, but I still think

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it's a good start. And a good example of having

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a question that's open enough that you can get to

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the real for a response rather than something that is

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framed in a way that is overly positive.

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Thank you. So if someone is thinking about having some

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kind of a market research and again, going to go

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out and do it themselves, what are the good questions

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they can ask?

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Okay. So I, and I think before anyone gets to

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doing a Product test and the And I, and they

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should absolutely include it. If they were doing a Product

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test to established how big it is as to establish

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whether there is a need for their product or what,

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what, what problem the product is, is solving. Because with

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that, knowing this, you don't know if your product is

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relevant or not after that, if you want to simplify

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it as much as possible, there are three questions that

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I include with art, even a question about whether they

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need to be there or not. And that is how

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appealing the idea is, if it still at an idea

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stage or how appealing the product is, but just generally

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how appealing it is based way to do that is

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with a scale.

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So it can go from extremely an appealing to extremely

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appealing. So you can get that range of response rather

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than yes, it's appealing or no, it's not appealing. So

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how appealing, how likely they are to buy it or

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try it. And depending on what your idea is and

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how unique they think the idea is, there's a lot

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of evidence at those three questions. All those three attributes

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are the key markers of success in a new product

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launch. But if they wanted to include some extra questions,

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to get some depth and some understanding around what people

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are responding, I would add and things like what they

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like or dislike about the idea is that it gives

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you some feedback on where you can optimize and improve

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it.

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And then the things like what they like this can

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help you and your launch communications cars, you can focus

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on these things, how relevant it is, how believable the

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product claim is. If there are any Product claims and

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what they expect it to pay for it, as that

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gives you a baseline for where you could be potentially

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pricing it,

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that's a fantastic thing. And that is a really good

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point. The next, you know, we wanted to talk about

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what his price and its sort of how someone might

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go about establishing, what do you price their product? Do

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they, I mean, I had my own ideas on this,

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but I really love to hear your thoughts on how

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someone should price set one up.

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I will only answer this from a consumer perspective because

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I am not an expert in how one should price

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it and how, when it establishes there a minimum price

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point. So I'll leave that to experts like yourself, that

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the, the way to go about asking for it with

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your ideal client, if you're doing it in some sort

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of market research, there is a really, really simple way

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of asking it then this actually surprisingly direct because actually

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I think if you're talking to the right people who

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are in your category, they generally are quite knowledgeable about

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press. So it's known as the Van Westendorp Pricing Meter

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it is for questions about price.

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And basically you use those four questions to find the

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sweet spot for your pricing from a consumer perspective. So

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the four questions are at what price would it be

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so expensive that you would never consider buying it at

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what price would it be searchable that you'd assume the

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quality would be put at? What price would you think

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is beginning to get expensive, but you'd still consider it.

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And at what price would you say, it's a bargain,

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a great buy for the money and you basically then

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get the ranges of those prices and you find the

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sweet spot where it's not so expensive, not so cheap

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that it undermines quality, etcetera.

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Now I won't go through all of the ways to

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analyze it now because there is ample advice online. If

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you'd just type it in Van Westendorp, Pricing, Meter about

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how to actually identify that sweet spot. But that is

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by far, in my opinion, the best and easiest way

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of establishing a price point from a consumer perspective,

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all of that fantastic. I really like that. Thank you.

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I mean, in the past I've done my own price

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for research With potential customers, and I've already asked one

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question, which is what would you pay for this? And

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now that you've explained that I see completely. Yeah. Why,

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why just asking me to give you an idea of,

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of a price is actually perhaps not the best way

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of going about it because what I ended up with

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was an enormous range, like a reading it, and they

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ended up going with a figure that felt best for

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me anyway. So then it kind of made them actual

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doing the research or not, but not pointless, you know,

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because in, in some ways it was, it was a

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validating, but actually it, you know, I think thing of

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research and as you need to be asking the right

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questions, as you've alluded to before, and if you're not

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asking the right questions and I guess you can't expect

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to find answers that are going to be particularly useful.

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Exactly. But I do think if you are, so let's

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say you are using survey monkey for your research. If

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you have the free model, I think you can only

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get 10 questions. So if you are looking at that

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going okay, when I need to do an appeal, I

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need to do a uniqueness. I need to do how

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likely they are to buy it. And I also want

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to find out who they are. So what age or

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gender? Oh, look at that. Suddenly I'm at two to

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five, six, seven questions. So I'm not going to have

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space to ask another four. And Pricing so, you know,

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in the absence of anything asking what they expect to

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pay is better than nothing. But as you say, you're

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going to end up with a very wide range. So

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you going to have to be relying more on your

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intuition, but it will give you a sense in any

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event at the idea that you had originally had was

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so far at all or so cheap, but typically, especially

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if you've done it as an open question or they

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just input the number that they want, which by the

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way, I would recommend, rather than you providing the ranges,

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then you are going to end up with an extremely

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wide range.

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Okay. Well, that's good to know what lets at least

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their team and then that's really helpful. Thank you. So

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it sounds like survey monkey can actually be quite a

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good way of people gathering this kind of information as

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well. Would you say without, without, I guess it is

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a midway point between lot's of just looking around at

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Facebook groups that you are going out and speaking to

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people face to face as a survey monkey survey could

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actually be a really good way.

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Absolutely. If you are wanting to do some formal research

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survey monkey or type form, I don't know what the

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limit on type forms a number of questions in the

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free model is, but either of those are an excellent

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way of doing it and then you can go and

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post those on to Facebook groups. In fact, we're your

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ideal customers are or saying it to your email list

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of you've got one. So they are pretty handy actually

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as survey tools, if you are wanting to get something

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with some hard numbers behind it,

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It was fantastic. And thank you because you provided so

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much advice here and lots of ways that people can

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hide when you go out and do this for free.

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So before we, before we finished, so what would be

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your number one piece of advice for anyone looking to

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create a product as well?

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I I think it would probably be that they need

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to know who the product is for that they need

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to know what need that person has and what they

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need your product as fulfilling. I genuinely think that if

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you don't have that as a starting point, if you

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don't know where to find them, you don't know how

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to price it. You don't know whether it's relevant, you

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don't know how to market it or communicate the idea.

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So that'll be my advice and I know exactly who

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it's for and build on from there.

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That's perfect. Fantastic. Thank you. And is there anything else

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that you've wanted to share with everyone Abbey?

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I think there is one last thing that I would

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add as a, an option. If you are wanting to

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do any research, which is going and having a look

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at your competitors, going and seeing what they're doing, where

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are they doing it and what price they are selling

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a similar product at assuming that there is something. And

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if you've obviously got a completely groundbreaking idea, then that's

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a different scenario, but going and having a look where

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they are and what, how they present it. Even if

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it's online, for example, how are they are promoting is

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what imagery they're using. I think that that as a

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technique for market research goes and incredibly along the way,

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I also think it's just people to do as well

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as we've used a similar products to actually read all

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the reviews as well, because that can give you a

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really good idea of what your competitors are doing well

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and where perhaps, you know, that what they're doing it

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could be improved upon, which I think is really good

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to know.

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Absolutely. And then it gives you a potential communication tool.

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If you can see what the gaps are.

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Fantastic. Thank you. And where can people find you if

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they listen to this podcast I'm really interested in you

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and your services, where can they come and find out

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a bit more about you?

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I am on Instagram as @Embarklovesconsumers and my website, which

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has my blog with a lot of detail on tips

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and tricks for conducting market research, which is Embark-Insight.Com.

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Thank you so much. And I think they have to

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face up in the show now, so people can find

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and get to them easily from there. So thank you

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so much for your time today. And I think this

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has been really helpful. I hate to everyone listening, find

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them, find this incredibly useful and gaze away and put

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some of this into actions. I thank you so much.

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Thank you. Vicki it's been an absolute pleasure.

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Say much for listening to this interview of Abbey. I

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hope you've found it useful. I know that I sat

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in any debt. If you have any feedback or any

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follow up questions, we'd love to hear from you. Email

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Vicki@tinychipmunk.com. I do also as always, we really appreciate a

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view if you've got the time to leave some And,

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that was mean so much. And finally, I know that

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there was a lot to cover today and you can

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get this entire Episode as a detailed blog post, which

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is available and via the link in the show notes

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or at blog.tinychipmunk.com. Speak to you soon.