When last did you research your market? When last did you test your assumptions? When last did you [just] ask questions? No selling. No “marketing”. Just questions.

Many business owners are frustrated because they are unable to get into the room with the key decision-maker. They send emails; make phone calls – and get nowhere. But when last did you make a phone-call to simply ask if you can have a meeting to understand them better? Feels very different to the standard sales pitch, doesn’t it?

Here’s an example:
“Hey, I am the new guy in the industry. I’m busy with research trying to understand the industry better and how I can offer a unique, better service. Are you open to meeting with me for 15 minutes? I have three questions that I want to ask you – I can send them to you in advance.”

Is there anyone out there who does not want to be the active recipient of a sales pitch? Of course. Is there anyone out there who does not want to be understood better? Probably not.

Before you start marketing or selling your business, your real aim should be to meet with key influencers to merely research their needs; test assumptions; and refine your offering. When last did you have a conversation with someone purely about their needs and nothing else?

Small and mid-sized companies neglect market research. They don’t know they should do it; they are afraid of the costs; arrogant about their perceived understanding of the industry or simply too eager to make the first sale. In most cases they don’t know the customer nearly well enough!

In my experience small businesses run on massive assumptions. That’s dangerous.

Let me say this again: Marketing is not about websites or logos. Marketing is primarily the science of getting to know the customer better than anyone else. It starts with market research.

Start asking questions!