Knowing What You Don’t Know

Stu Perlmeter

The challenge with business decisions around growth and innovation has always been managing the unknown. In the Covid era, with all the additional uncertainty, the challenge is even more pronounced. The good news is that companies who are pivoting, innovating, and focusing on performance are survivors. If this describes you and your firm, there is the strong likelihood of something good on the other side.

This “pivot” plan is refreshing for company leaders for many reasons. Typically, the innovation has been on their minds for some time, if not on a white board somewhere. It has been stalled for obvious reasons, and now it’s getting unstuck. The teams are meeting and getting on board. This excitement trumps the day-to day-drudgery of running a company in the midst of a pandemic.

Sometimes the initiative is a new product; for others it is a deep dive into examining the entire go-to-market approach. In either case, there are common elements that matter:

  • Consensus of teams that do not always work well together
  • Choosing between worthy alternatives competing for focus and investment
  • Having the market data and insight necessary to give confidence to the above choice

What starts out as a refreshing, even fun exercise gets rigorous in a hurry, as it should. All three of the above elements are key. The one that the company is universally least capable of performing well and objectively is the capturing and evaluating of customer and market insight.

There are very good reasons for this, which will be the subject of a separate post. Suffice to say that this is due to subtle, yet powerful forces having to do with the social psychology of buyers and the myopia of business developers and marketers.

Whether you are considering Sales and Marketing Effectiveness or Product Innovation — it takes a highly experienced team of third-party experts in mining and evaluating voice-of-customer insights, along with relevant market data to effectively validate any such initiatives.

Hiring consultants to help with forward guidance is a choice companies can make to move things along faster and in line with best practices. Whether or not you hire such a consultant, you would do well to consider third-party mining of customer insight. It is a highly effective first step toward knowing what you don’t know – and that truly matters in achieving your goals.

About the Author

Stu Perlmeter

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Stu brings 30 years of marketing and research experience to 1st Resource, which he founded in 1996. Stu’s primary expertise is in understanding the market insights that tie to success formulas for companies seeking to grow their business in strategic ways.