Step out of the darkness

I’ve written before about the importance of understanding your customer and the fact that a startling number of people run businesses without taking the time to do so. The reality is that humans in general often prefer to focus on the broadcasting side of communication rather than the receiving side. We could share this time as you read considering the woes human kind suffers as as result but lets focus on the positive instead. Invest time in understanding those you seek to serve and you will, if it is the first time you have tried it, find yourself suffused with confidence when making choices, illuminated by the light of understanding when working out what to do next and enriched by the results of your new found appreciation. Honestly, questions that you’ve pondered (and guessed at before) will almost answer themselves.


As I write it has just passed for this Winter. The winter solstice that is. It occurs on the 21st December each year. On that day there are only 7 hours, 49 minutes and 42 seconds of daylight (depending on where you live in the UK). A whole 8 hours, 48 minutes and 38 seconds shorter than the summer solstice. Why do I mention this?

It’s important to know when you are in the dark.

If you aren’t aware of the fact, you won’t be motivated to seek out the light. It can be the same when considering your understanding of your customers. Much like the amount of daylight on any given day in the UK, your understanding of your customers will fluctuate over time. You learn something, your understanding is better. As time passes the value of that understanding wanes as it becomes less relevant. People change over time so a fixed point of understanding in time will always lose value as the days, weeks and months pass.

Your understanding of your customers in context with your understanding of your business is what guides you when making decisions. If you haven’t taken the time to actively improve your understanding of your customers recently then you are in a darker place than you could be and should be. Just think about how much nicer it is in Summer with the long days and how much more you can get done. It’s similar with how well you understand your customers. The greater the understanding, the nicer it is and the more productive you are. Head for the light. Take the time to complete some good market research about whatever it is you want to know. Realise that even though it takes a little time it will actually get you to your goal quicker (and better) in the long run. It is know.


There is a great deal of evidence to support the value of market research. I’m not here to pile a lot of reading on you in this instance. Rather to tweak your interest and if you are convinced enough you can go and find the data. You could do worse than to start with the Pharmacy Marketing Formulary which covers market research as part of the marketing process. I can however share with you this…

I have enjoyed the opportunity to carry out market research in relation to three separate pharmacy businesses in recent times and it is honestly mind blowing each time. If the research is well constructed, working backwards from what you want to know, you can confirm what you thought you knew, replace myths in your mind with realities, gain confidence in your decision making, cover broad sweeps in customer thinking and winkle out the details that may prove useful.

Each of the times I have done this work the clients reaction has been as rewarding as the new knowledge gained from customers. It is often quite emotional, mixing surprise with recognition and there seems to be a sense of relief. Relief that patients actually appreciate their work. Relief that some, if not much, of what they thought is not far off. Relief that they no longer have to guess about what to do next. There is a tangible moment where they become enlightened and it’s great. For them. For me. For their patients.

They have stepped out of the darkness. They have entered the light. They have chosen Summer over Winter. They have chosen evidence over guessing.

If you have something serious to get done you could join them and do it better.