One of the important jobs of researchers is to “translate” between the lingo of marketing people and the way that their customers talk. It’s an obvious thing when you say it, but a good researcher makes sure they are constantly doing a sanity check and purging “lingo” from their conversations.
I was reminded again of this basic concept on a recent project. We were hired by a client’s Web team to learn about what type of marketing assets were most compelling for a particular kind of audience. It was a great research project – a clearly defined problem, with a clearly defined target audience.
Customers don’t think like marketers. When an IT professional goes out to get information, they don’t really think too hard if it’s a Web page, a PDF, a video, or a even a call from their vendor’s account manager. They think about getting an answer to their problem. IT professionals don’t think of “consuming assets”, many of them don’t even know what a marketing asset is. They just think they “get information from their vendor.”
By asking questions that used their own words to talk about real experiences (for example, “The last time you purchased this type of product, did you visit the vendor’s Web site?”) or showing them examples of specific Web sites and seeing what they’d be most likely to do, we talked to them in their own words and got great, usable answers.
The final step was to translate that back into the client’s marketing speak, because of course they needed to know if they should develop a video or a white paper or an interactive assessment or….