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Have you ever consulted an acquaintance instead of a best friend regarding a problem?

Perhaps your acquaintance had the expertise about the issue, or it could be that you wanted a more objective or honest view. Whatever your reason may be, as this example shows, sometimes it helps to get the advice of people who aren't personally too close to you.

Much has already been said about talking to your most loyal customers, but in my conversations with various CMOs and clients, I know there's also value in reaching customers who aren't as passionate about your brand. These consumers may not be as familiar with your organization, giving them a perspective that differs from your loyal customers.

If you already use your insight community to regularly engage loyal customers, why should you listen to your casual customers? Consider the following reasons:

  1. Validate what your loyal customers are telling you

Your most loyal customers have unique insights about your brand, but it's never a bad idea to validate what they're telling you. Casual customers can confirm or refute what your insight community is telling you, giving you more confidence in your final decision.

  1. Identify ways of turning them into super fans

To turn less loyal customers into super fans, do you need tweak your products? And if you do so, how will that affect your more loyal customers? Perhaps you need to introduce a new product line?

You can't answer these types of questions and turn casual fans into super fans unless you talk to them and figure out what makes them tick. What works for your brand advocates may not work as well with your less loyal fans, so it's crucial that you hear both sides.

  1. Get a more balanced perspective

Sometimes organizations need a more objective view from consumers to make better decisions. For example, during a PR crisis, insights from your less loyal customers may more closely reflect the thoughts of the general public. If your super fans are already passionate about your brand, their insights in this scenario may be a little skewed. It's smart to at least check with the less loyal crowd to see if you're on the right path.

  1. Do more sophisticated research projects

For a variety of reasons, sometimes it's not possible to do certain types of research in your insight community. For example, if your community isn't big enough, it may not be able to support segmentation analysis. Sometimes even with a community of several thousands of consumers, you simply need a bigger sample size for a research project.

In this case, engaging people in a market panel might be able to bridge the gap for your research needs. If you do so, don't forget to use a profiling questionnaire to help ensure you can merge data from both groups and that you're comparing apples to apples.

  1. Get the thoughts of the less-experienced crowd

There are instances when you need the thoughts of people who have less experience with your offering. For example, if you are launching a new product that you've developed in collaboration with your insight community, you might need to test it out with a different group to make sure that its design and functionalities are intuitive for most consumers. In this case, talking to people who aren't as familiar with the product will be able to point out gaps that new customers might also run into.

To get a more holistic view, listening to the voice of the market is sometimes necessary. Don't forget to occasionally check with your casual customers to eliminate blind spots and to complement and validate insights from your loyal customers.

How often do you engage casual customers? And how do you normally reach this group of consumers? Please let us know in the comments.

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