You know your product is awesome. You know if you just tapped into the right customer base that your sales would skyrocket, but how do you promote it to the marketplace? What do you focus on when doing market research, especially in terms of advertising and online presence?

When it comes to startup companies and market research, it really has to do with the emotional connection that prospective clients or consumers make with a company’s product or service, not necessarily its merits alone. That is, they don’t care how hard you worked, how long it took to make it, or even how cool you think it is. They only care about whether your product fills their own needs or not.

The problem is, a lot of startup companies put the cart before the horse — they sell people on their hard work, and the coolness factor — and don’t address whether the people actually need their product.

At IQS Research, we see a lot of companies that put the cart before the horse, creating or selling something they think is cool, but maybe their customers don’t. We’ve been able to help companies figure out what it is their customers want — define their pain points — and help them create a better product, and tailor their message to their customers’ needs.

Startup companies often take too narrow a view when determining the most effective ways to reach their potential customers. For example, let’s say you have a hamburger restaurant. People don’t eat your hamburgers because you’ve been in business for a long time, or that you worked 24/7 for months on end to find the perfect hamburger. Your experience is not the main factor when people determine where they want to eat. It’s about two things: Are they hungry? Will they like it?

In other words, can you solve their pain points, hunger and the need for something pleasurable.

Getting back to our startup companies, what is it about your product that will fill the needs and desires people have when thinking about whether they need your product? Does it make their life better? Does it make their life easier? Does it save them money? Will it fill an empty place in their souls that has been otherwise untouched by food, alcohol, and money? (And if you found the answer for that last question, can we invest in your company?)

There are myriad reasons people make buying decisions. The key to successful marketing is to find out those needs — their pain points — through market research. It’s important that you find out what your customers truly want, not just hazard a guess, or build something you think is cool, and then hope you find a market that will want it.

The road to success is littered with companies that thought coolness was the only thing necessary to sell products.