The Power of Passion

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 9.27.29 AM.png

Passion is key to professional success. Without passion, you have nothing worth waking up for and heading into the office to build. A successful business begins with finding something you can throw yourself and your heart into.

When you work passionately with affecting change as your goal, the bottom line will follow.  A passion-based business always has at its core meeting your target market’s need.

Ask The Questions

In order to meet a need, you must first identify it. This process may take time because you cannot meet a need in a void. You need to get into the minds of your target market to understand fully what they need and how they’ll use it.

You cannot sit in an ivory tower, brainstorm what “they” want, and put it out there. The trick is for you to figure out how to discover what “they” need and make that happen. Do this by asking questions, listening to the answers, and then building your business around that gap. Fill the void.

Create your products or round out your concept based on what is missing in the marketplace. Ask yourself:

  • Are you building something to appease an individual, or is it a solitary offering?
  • Is it intended for a patient and a doctor or is it a patient and caregivers (family/friends)?
  • Is your product one that already exists, yet you feel you have a “better mousetrap” to offer?
  • Will your product/service speak to multiple generations? If so, do you need revisions within your product/concept in order to make it that much better of a fit?

Listen to the Answers

Of course beyond asking the questions is listening to the answers. Listen without bias, without editing, and with an open heart. When you listen this way, you’ll be able to push your passion through to fruition in a way that will be well received by those you intend to serve most.

When you’ve begun from a passionate position, asked the right questions, listened to the answers, and responded with a product or service that fills a void, you’re well on the way to securing buy-in from customers and investors alike.

Confirm Buy-in

Always confirm buy-in from your target market by reaching out to early adopters and brand advocates. What do these customers need to know about your business in order to feel comfortable parting with their money? Ask them what they need to ensure their commitment? Today’s savvy consumers are bombarded with purchase options and need assurance your product or service is perfect for them. Having social proof in the form of devoted customers gives that buying confidence.

Whether it’s a new product line in fashion or food, rebranding your existing business, conceptualizing new ways to connect patients to healthcare providers, or something as lofty as launching a bank, having a successful product or service is all about bringing your passion to fruition. You’ll do that through asking and listening and acting in a way that fills a marketplace void and meets your target market’s needs.

So, here’s to passion-based projects and affecting change! Here’s to business done in a way that shifts the power from the bottom line to the bottom of your consumer’s hearts.

Work With Us

Bringing in an objective and unbiased researcher will help you as you get started on your new, or existing, passion-based business. Let us help you with market research, ensuring you’ll ask the right questions, really listen to the answers, and be able to appropriately interpret and implement the results.


Keep it Personal

It’s bound to happen sooner or later. Your customers are going to have a negative or frustrating experience with your product or services. It’s simply an unavoidable fact. The question isn’t if it will happen, but how are you going to deal with it when it happens? And, what strategies are you going to put in place to ensure you don’t lose those customers for life?

I recently had a very frustrating customer experience of my own with a certain well-known airline. Aggravated by my situation, I reached out to the airline to vocalize my dissatisfaction, and was surprised when they immediately responded by throwing a couple of flight vouchers my way. While a few free plane tickets in an ever-inflating economy did sound nice, it didn’t get to the root of my problem. I didn’t feel heard, I didn’t feel appreciated, and no action was taken to prevent the issue from reoccurring in the future.

In the words of Steve Jobs, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” Do you view these situations as an opportunity to learn and improve? Or like many companies, are you guilty of handing out automated responses for the sake of saving time? While Baby Boomers might be completely satisfied with a few free vouchers, a Millennial customer may want something entirely different. The trick is in knowing who your customers are and how to cater to their individual preferences and needs. Sound impossible? It may not be as complicated as you might think.

So what’s the first step to discovering what your customers really want? Ask them. Go directly to the source and find out what they want and what you can do to be authentic and accommodating on their terms. Find out what your Baby Boomer customers value and appreciate. Take the time to understand how to best communicate with your Millennial customers, and so on and so forth. But, by all means never assume that all members within a cohort are created equal. Knowing what one individual wants doesn’t necessarily translate into understanding all. However, by arming yourself with a deeper knowledge of your various cohorts, you will be equipped to meet your customer’s unique needs and retain valuable relationships in the future.

As silly as it might sound, it’s easy to forget that customers are humans. Having a bad experience with a product or service can ruin their day, put them in a bad mood and significantly affect how they view your brand. That’s why it’s so critical to never lose that personal touch no matter how large your company might be. Just like my recent experience with a major airline, I was seeking a personal response to my personal situation, not an automated answer from an impersonal company. Having their ear meant so much and knowing that my words were heard, and changes were made to ensure no one else ever had to go through what I did, meant that much more.

So where do you go from here? Be authentic, keep it personal, and seek to see a complaint through to resolution. It’s really as simple as that. There’s no way to prevent negative experiences from happening, but with a little effort and a willingness to listen, you have the opportunity to turn unhappy customers into brand advocates that last a lifetime. Which do you choose?

Techniques – Honor Diversity (#3 of 3)

Suggestion Three – honor the diversity

Groups are as different as the folks who sit around those oblong tables.  Don’t jump to conclusions just because you’re sitting around the table with a group of teachers (typically more friendly than others), anesthesiologists (typically more guarded than most), or banking customers (typically more hostile than others) because even though there are those generalities or even stereotypes, those can be quickly blown when you realize each and every one of those anesthesiologists, teachers or customers are just people:  people who live their lives above and beyond their interaction with your clients’ products or services;  people who deal with family happiness’s and challenges;  people who come from different races, religions, creeds, genders, cohorts, etc.  Sure, package them into subsets, draw enough assumptions to build your guide and frame the discussion, but once you sit down with 8-10 strangers sitting around you, take off the gloves, heck, if you have to, take off your shoes too, and look at them as individuals who need to be treated as such.  And, never forget, the guide is just a guide.  A moderators’ guide is a fantastic jumping off point but it’s the nooks and crannies that you explore, while you’re in the group, learning about your respondents as people that will bring you those gems that every client will be pleased to have gotten.


Last, but hardly least – reap the rewards and the surprising extras!

So, all the very best to you as you moderate a group, or hire a moderator to tend to your project.  But as you’re doing so, take a moment to remember that people are just people and they all come to your table with aback story.  The job of the moderator is to decipher where these folks are coming from as effectively and efficiently as possible.  Thus informed, you can then get down to brass tacks.   Dig into the guide and make sure you come out of there having answered the clients’ objectives and, in a perfect world, even gleaned insights well beyond the barriers of the guide.  Of course, for me, my biggest reward isn’t hearing from the client how thrilled they are with the groups (now, dear clients, don’t get me wrong…I love making you happy but my responsibility to you is to get unguarded information from your customers/clients/employees and that’s what I’m bound to do) but from the respondents themselves.  When you have respondents walking out of your groups thanking your for having invited them, there simply isn’t much that is more rewarding.  You know when respondents say ‘thank you,’ they trusted you enough to open themselves up and share their honest opinions.  You know you mined those gems which will serve your client well, and that, dear reader, is the key, no, it’s the technique of all techniques, that puts you heads above the rest.  Know your project, understand the objectives, learn the clients’ product or industry but, above all, moderate a group which will leave the respondents leaving happy having been there.

Techniques #2 of 3

Suggestion Two – Wear MANY hats

No group is a cakewalk, but they are fun, challenging and productive if you know how best to proceed.  So, as to what technique(s) I employ, I guess I’d have to say I’m part moderator (adhering to the needs of my client), part therapist (gathering insight into my respondents’ stories, their past…what they bring to the table and breaking down walls), part friend (put them at ease, validate their concerns) and part parent (keep them on track, after all we do have a guide to get through and everyone knows there’s no dessert (their incentive) until dinner’s done).

Of course there are many other hats I wear during the course of a group but these are present at most every one.  I’m good cop/bad cop, mom/dad, Frick and Frack, all rolled into one.  You have to be.  You need to be as flexible, agile and complex as those individuals sitting around your table.

A moderator with a monotone voice and a one size fits all philosophy need not apply.  Sure, you’ll get through the moderator’s guide with that type of person at the head of the table but will you get to the heart of the matter?  Will you gather honest input? Will you break down the barriers that just about every respondent enters the room with and bring them into your world enough to share space in a safe and unguarded way?

Focus Group Techniques – #1 of 3

Suggestion One – Start a conversation by identifying the nature of your groups

I can almost hear you ask … A conversation?  How do you do that?  Well, assess your group.   Do you have a friendly group?  They could get a bit chatty so tread carefully on the whole bonding thing.  Perhaps they are a guarded or ‘anxious’ group?  Take a couple extra minutes before you jump in, no need to rush.  Trust me… using a few extra precious moments up front, before you set in to the business at hand, will serve you well in the end.  Then there’s the hostile group – hmmm, why do you think they are hostile?  Are they sad, scared, and/or angry?  Listen for clues to figure out the genesis of their hostility – is it something directly related to the topic at hand, your client, the industry that you’re discussing?  Or is it bigger than that?  Maybe things have changed in their geographic area/within their company and it’s affecting the respondents around your table.  Validate their anger, sadness or fear, give them a moment (just a moment!!) here and there to air their frustrations and continue to stay the course.  This is the type of group you can’t manage with precision (or an iron fist) because flexibility (and kid gloves) is the only way to get them to open up.  In fact, if you try to shut themdown, you’ll practically hear the clicking of the mortar shovels building up those walls.

Don’t be fooled

So, you have groups which are friendly, anxious, hostile, and then, on occasion just an easy going group.  Oh, that’s great you say, right?  No, there are potholes here too.  An easy going group can be complacent and complacency leads to the following; leaning back in the chairs, doodling (and not necessarily the productive kind), day dreaming, etc.

More ‘techniques’ to follow throughout December…my little way of spreading the holiday ‘giving’ throughout the entire month.  Happy, happy, merry, merry and a HoHoHo!

FOCUS GROUPS: The ‘Technique’ Question

I’ve been doing focus groups for over a dozen years now so it’s fair…it’s fair that people ask me ‘what technique do you use?’  I actually take it as a great compliment but, truth be told, I don’t use ‘A’ technique’.  Nope, not a one!  Okay, so now I’m digging a hole I fear I can’t get out of, so let me clarify.  I use MANY ‘techniques’, if you want to call them that.  How many you ask?  Okay, now we’re talking.  I use just about as many ‘techniques’ as I’ve had respondents, and clients, and then, of course, the combination of each unique respondent and each client’s project and….okay, so you get it.  Techniques are as varied as respondents, clients, projects and any combination of the aforementioned.  The trick is to not pigeonhole one’s self into any one technique – it’s as ill-suited as the flavor of the day or the trend of the year.  Your respondents will see right through any ‘technique’ you throw at them.  Loosen up, get to know your respondents, read their body language, build a relationship, tear down walls and start a conversation.

Check back throughout December for suggestions and my recommendations to making a focus group unique, efficient and, honestly, an event your respondents will be happy to attend.  But, in the meantime, I wish you and yours nothing but health and happiness this holiday season.