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To Grow Your Business, Be a Cultural Anthropologist

Guest Post by Kelly Lucia

Many small business owners and entrepreneurs use market research to learn more about their target audience. They use this same research to find out how their products or services relate to their customers, and they educate themselves on the best ways to increase sales within that same target market. This is standard procedure within the business and marketing world.

But what if you wanted to take it a step further? Truly visionary business owners grow their businesses successfully by understanding more about their customers than their competitors do, and using those insights to their advantage.

To understand as much as you possibly can about your current customers and your target audience, you’ll need to become a cultural anthropologist of sorts. Does that mean you should dress up like Jane Goodall? Well, no. But you’re certainly on to something.

Picture2What you CAN do is look for ways to dive right in and examine the nature of your target market up close and personal: how they behave and react, plus what they really, REALLY want in general, and more specifically, what they want from your business.

Observation is Key

When we study a certain species of animal, how do we know how they behave? We watch them. And we watch them closely. We don’t just observe them a few times and expect to determine behavioral patterns with any validity. We watch them for several days, months, or even years at a time. We compare notes from one week to the next, identify patterns, and make hypotheses about their behavior.

Using cultural anthropology to grow your business works in much the same way. But it’s less about what you’re studying, and more about how you study it. Anyone can make generalized observations about their target market, but it takes a savvy business professional to really delve into the unique behavior of their target audience—especially without preconceived bias.

One way to successfully dive into those observations is to immerse yourself in your target market’s culture. Meaning: put yourself in their shoes. LITERALLY. Whether it’s going undercover and listening in on common conversations, or joining groups to which your target market belongs, you’ll want to become an intrinsic part of the culture to truly get an idea of how your potential customers think...and what they want.

Compare and Track Distinctions

Sometimes, small business owners need to go with their gut instincts. More often, it’s smarter to do your homework and make a decision based on facts. To grow your business through observation, you’ve got to record what you see, compare new observations to what you already know or believe, and move forward with those comparisons in mind.

How do you record all of your various in-depth observations? Well, you’ll need a really goodsmall business CRM to help you track findings every step of the way with easy-to-use notes and comments.

Your “findings” may include anything from conversations to interviews to emails to online research. You’ll need a place to keep all of that info handy and organized; a program to help you analyze your observations, as well as track and record your results. A truly versatile CRM will do all that, and help you be a cultural anthropologist for your business every step of the way.

Features to look for include the ability to link items together to indicate dynamic relationships, ways to cross-reference large findings, and tags, which are a simple way to organize your findings so they make sense to you.     

Analyze Your Results

Once you’ve made your observations, tracked them, recorded them, and started your analysis of the results, you can begin to understand what your target market truly wants, needs and desires.

Only once you’ve started to understand what your target market secretly wants and desires will you be able to take advantage of those insights to grow your business. For example, if you thinkwomen entrepreneurs are your most significant target market, you’ll need to effectively understand what makes them tick, what’s missing from their lives, and what could make their lives easier.

And THAT’S where your company’s products or services come in.

Suppose you hypothesize that women in general want more responsibility and are ready to pursue entrepreneurial activities, but need an outside boost of some sort. If you can position your product or service as a solution to help women get on their feet and start a small business, then you’ve just figured out exactly how to approach your target market.

If the in-depth analysis of your results supports your hypothesis, then you’ve successfully discovered where your business fits in the mix of your target market. Congratulations!

You’ll still need to work on the pitch (or lack thereof, depending on your marketing strategy), but you’re off to a great start in growing your business successfully, based on your very own cultural research.

Kelly Lucia is the Lead Staff Writer at A ghostwriting service that provides businesses with the opportunity to build their online presence and grow their companies, Posts by Ghost offers strategic blogging, content marketing and SEO assistance to businesses of all shapes and sizes. Kelly hit the ground running as a web copywriter several years ago and hasn’t stopped since. Over the last few years she’s developed a vast range of knowledge within the realm of content writing, and she prides herself on being able to write clear and unique content for an immense variety of industries, from overseas blogs about raffle tickets to small business and marketing advice on


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Aira Bongco

As a communication graduate minoring in sociology, I found that I have an edge in marketing. That's because I can read people's behavior and is able to act before things get worse.

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