Growth Riffs Summary Logo

This week’s focus: I don’t know if you’re aware, but there was a presidential election earlier this week in the USA. And, despite the polls suggesting otherwise, Mr. Trump won. As with Brexit and the UK general election in 2015, the polls didn’t predict the actual outcome.

My own view is that we expect too much of polls. They can give a general view of the public mood, but can never be sufficiently precise to reflect people’s specific voting intentions or likelihood to vote. And, as the pollsters try to fix the problems associated with past election polls, they’ll simply end up missing new subtle factors at play in future votes.

It’s the same with customer research. All the data and research in the world – and most of the reports that I see run to over 100 slides! – can only ever tell you so much. Every successful business leader I’ve worked with has had an intimate – and first hand – understanding of their customers and what makes them tick.

This means that you must constantly get out, meet and talk to as many of your customers as possible about their needs, their frustrations and their ambitions. That’s the only way that you can make sense of the data in your research reports, or even know the right questions for your researchers to ask.

If you want to see how a real, first-hand view of the electorate, combined with an understanding of the bigger picture, can help you develop a clearer view of the future, read this article by the filmmaker Michael Moore predicting Trump’s triumph. And if you want to develop new, innovative offers that better meet the needs of your customers, you must get out from behind your desk and understand their lives first-hand.

Off the record: You Can’t Always Get What You Want by The Rolling Stones

We went down to the demonstration

To get your fair share of abuse

Singing, “We’re gonna vent our frustration

If we don’t we’re gonna blow a 50-amp fuse!”

© Stuart Cross 2016. All rights reserved.