Steve Jobs understood something about marketing. And it gave him a huge competitive advantage. Today, I’m going to share that advantage with you.
It’s really simple to understand, easy to do and can massively improve your results.
It starts with this age-old business fact: There’s often a big difference between what people say and what they actually do.
I spoke with a blogger once, who had recently surveyed his readers. He wanted to know if they’d be willing to pay for a premium service. He accurately described the service, including the small, monthly fee.
In total, 73 people took time to respond, saying they’d “happily pay for the service”.
With 73 people happy to pay for his new service, he went ahead and launched it. However, despite what they said, just 8 of them actually signed up. He lost almost $40000 in the process.
Steve Jobs understood this better than any of his competitors
Sure, it’s important for us to listen to what our marketplace is saying. But when we listen, we need to do so through a filter. We need to understand that in many cases, people will tell us:
- Things they think we want to hear.
- Things they think will make them look good.
This is why Steve Jobs shunned focus groups. He learned that people in focus groups tended to say smart, generous things in order to look good. He found their feedback to be not only of little real value, but potentially misleading. That’s a dangerous mix.
Whilst we need to listen to what people say. We tend to make massively better decisions when we watch what people do.
This is why entrepreneurial business owners sometimes offer an early bird discount when they launch something new. For a short period of time, they offer the new (whatever) at a slightly reduced rate. They do this, primarily to measure what kind of genuine interest there is.
- If the marketplace is eagerly buying, the business owner knows there’s a significant demand. At least, at the early bird price.
- However, if the marketplace isn’t interested, even at the reduced price, then something is wrong. Maybe the marketing needs to improve. Perhaps the product / service itself needs more value pumped into it. And it’s possible that both areas need to significantly improve before the actual launch.
Here’s the thing: That kind of real-world feedback provides data you can make decisions on, with far greater confidence than data from a survey.
Polling people with a survey can be useful. However, in business we know that actions speak louder than words. After all, great ideas are not anointed.