"...Business in modern day has become quite complex because of many reasons. One of them is understanding customers. I will try to connect 4 steps which I mentioned in my slides of "Branding 2.0 & Social Media" (SlideShare Link)i.e. investigating, walking + talking with people, learning by doing and sharing.
For example, if you want to launch a new product, the first primary thing that has to be done is to know what your target audience wants. Some of the tools that businesses have been using are market research, newer methods like alpha & beta tests etc. But the question is do they truly help us understand what they want?
One more thing that has to be remembered here is that we all are dealing with people who by nature are emotional and more often than not are not guided by logic or rationale. So what are these tests do for us! Don’t get me wrong here; I am not saying that it is of no use. But I personally believe that a healthy mix of personal experiences and qualitative & quantitative research will work as a wonder drug in these cases where Logic + Emotion (had to mention David Armano here) is taken care of easily. And that’s where Social Media can help us. Social Media can help businesses to engage, connect, collaborate, corroborate, share and help socialize between customers & businesses.
Last but not least, validation to the extent of measurability & stepwise accountability of the ongoing processes of understanding your customers is an important criterion as it can make or break a company. It can be through bringing your customers into the validation process not just through alpha or beta tests as the question lies somewhere else. It’s much better to have rough answers to right question than to have detailed answers to wrong question like quantitative analysis or focus groups. Validation can be brought to the table through asking the right questions like memorability of trademarks or logos, customer’s brand voice (message) perception & last but not least your customers should be able to verbalize the brand’s concept. Then working backwards towards number crunching may be the total solution.”
Please feel free to add/comment/criticize on it.