On Manifestos and Market Research

A friend of mine, who recently started a business told me she was working on a business manifesto. I love the idea of declaring your policies and intentions, so I got really excited. I told her I wrote a manifesto some time ago and we agreed to swap. So I dug mine out and dusted it off.

close up young office woman talking to someone on her mobile phone while looking into the distance with happy facial expression.

A Tale of Two Manifestos

My manifesto is two pages—part personal manifesto, part business manifesto—and I wrote it for myself in one of my fist-pounding moments of “this-is-never-going-to-happen-again,” back before I wasn’t laser-focused on watching my boundaries with clients. And it was really good for me to read it again last week. There’s a lot of good stuff in there.

Her manifesto is 30 pages, much more comprehensive, and more of a guide for other entrepreneurs about to how to be a bad*ss business owner. I was really impressed and inspired.

In her manifesto, there’s a whole section on market research (I don’t remember if that’s what she called it, but that’s what it was about). I also happen to be in the middle of doing my own bit of market research for a new project I’m super stoked to roll out. So, it piqued my curiousity.
Here’s the connection:To be successful in business, you need to know two things: (a) who you are and (b) what your clients need. We all have blindspots. Writing a manifesto may or may not help identify those blindspots. But conducting market research (without “leading” your participants) will 100% point you in the right direction. Where these two things overlap, that’s your sweet spot.

My Business Manifesto

I share my business manifesto here, in case it inspires you to write your own and there are some other good examples here. I think all business owners need a statement like this to stay grounded in what matters. To me, it means so much more than a dry statement of values, but you could start there.

Write it. Read it once a month. Tweak as necessary.

The Pocket PhD believes:

  1. Presence is a superpower.
    The good news is that you don’t have to be a superhero to be present. You just have to be mindful of your personal triggers, remember that you can’t control other people, and practice controlling your own thoughts. Daily meditation helps. Om.
  2. Authenticity always trumps security (Or there is no value in security without authenticity).
    In Greek mythology, Sisyphus was sentenced to roll the same boulder up the same hill for all of eternity. His life epitomizes a life of security. He had one job to do and no decisions to make. Too many people work long hours doing monotonous jobs that they hate or that force them to check their genuine selves at the door—all in the name of security. I choose freedom over security and I will always set my priorities to align with this value. I have never regreted that choice.
  3. Rules are imperative. But some rules were made to be broken.
    There is no better example to illustrate this belief than the rules of English grammar. If there were no rules, communication would be impossible. Still, these rules are arbitrary. It is possible to communicate without knowing the rules perfectly. And the very best writing breaks the rules with gusto. My college freshman English Composition Professor be damned!
  4. Transparency is the real elixir of life.
    Because, ideally, creating content is a collaborative effort between my clients and myself, transparency is vital. Honest communication goes a long way toward establishing strong relationships and building mutual trust. I proactively deliver relevant information, both positive and negative, and I respect those who return the same to me.
  5. Badass is not synonymous with asshole.
    No description needed.

The Value of Market Research

And if you’re writing a business manifesto that’s more of a guide for your clients, like my friend wrote, or working on some other big project, do yourself a favor and do some market research to find out what your clients need. I’m reaching out to people in my tribe for a 5-minute conversation focused on figuring out the biggest obstacles to writing a business book. I’ve only done a couple calls so far and I’m already floored by what I’m learning.

It’s not that I don’t have some idea about pain points here from working with current clients, but there’s so much value in hearing people describe the challenge in their own words. I know I can’t offer a solution until I know exactly what the problems are. Even if you think you know what they need, why not get some validation of your idea ahead of putting in a ton of time? Trust me. This will be a game-changer.

Here’s what is working so far:

  • Reach out to your list with a simple email or text saying that you’re working on a new project and asking if they’d do a 5-minute call to help you with market research. 10 is a good target number for calls, so reach out to as many as you need until you hit that number. This is important: Do not tip your hand by giving any details about the project in the initial message.
  • Come up with a list of no more than 5 questions to ask those who respond to your email or text. Base your questions on finding out what their biggest challenges are in relation to your project. At the end of the call, you can reveal as much about the project as you’d like. The last question can ask if they’d like to be added to your waitlist or the list for your beta roll out.
  • Stick to your questions and pay attention to the answers you get. You can use their answers to write your sales copy, guide the content you create, and give you the confidence to put yourself out there.

If all of this sounds really scary, I get it. I was definitely having flashbacks to “sales meetings” and cold calling when I was trying to sell Cutco knives in the 90’s. But it’s not like that. For one thing, these aren’t cold calls. You’re inviting people to help you help them and you’re only calling those who show an interest.

Also, I’ve participated in market research for others and I haven’t felt any sales pressure. Remember, it’s up to you to set the tone. If you approach the call as the data-gathering exercise it is, you’ll be open to gaining the insights that will make your work easier in the future. Not a bad use of 5-minutes, right?

Whether you’re writing a personal manifesto or a business manifesto for internal use, or a comprehensive manifesto for your clients, consider the intersection between who you are and what your clients need. And think about how market research can enhance your offerings.

Speaking of which, if you’re willing to give me 5-minutes to answer my 5 questions about what’s stopping you from writing your business book, shoot me an email. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Otherwise, stay tuned to see what magic I’ve got cooking.

Photo credit: langstrup