Get The Answers You Need With Creative Market Research

Not too long ago, I attended OpenView Senior Adviser Luke Hohmann’s Innovation Games ® class, where I experienced a totally different type of primary market research.

Innovation Games are very carefully designed exercises that draw on collaboration, visuals, physical props, and facilitation to provoke feedback and imaginative insights from participants not usually captured by other market research. The feedback and insights can aid in driving competitive positioning, product road map, market segmentation, packaging, and messaging.

Having watched the games in action (at three expansion stage software businesses in the OpenView Venture Partners investment portfolio), viewed some of the results, and joined in them myself, here are my essential take-aways for product teams:

  • While quite a number of traditional market research tools are accessible (surveys, phone interviews, on-site visits, focus groups, user conferences), a few of them are too costly for smaller organizations and they are all limited in terms of what beneficial information they can secure from their targets.
  • The consumer mind is complex and delivers various data on similar matters based on how it is accessed. For instance, ask a client the same question five different times concerning his pain points, and he might give five entirely different answers, and not a single one may possibly show the key insights you require! This poses a predicament for product managers trying to be client-centric and progressive all at once.
  • Instead of limiting themselves to standard market research, product managers will need to explore new approaches of obtaining the data they require from customers and potential clients.  Creativity needs to start out with the research approach.
  • Product managers need to consider research strategies that:
    • Participants will wish to engage with and will delight in!
    • Occupies the participant’s mind by means of senses and angles that regular research does not!
    • Does not have to be really expensive!
    • Will produce actionable data.
  • Innovation Games has proven the following variables are useful in attaining insightful, actionable market research data: physical props (actual card board boxes, large poster paper, magazines, photos, stickers, and many others), a secure, open, enjoyable atmosphere for collaboration with others, and situations asking people to imagine, prioritize, buy, draw, and sell while offering them tools to express themselves.

So the next time you’re organizing a user conference and are about to host another hour-long panel about your customer pain points or feedback on your product, think about having them design the ideally suited product for themselves on an actual box, run a mock auction of product features, and get creative!