How To Do Research Like Apple And Amazon

Henry Ford may is said to have stated that "If I'd asked my customers, they would have said they wanted a faster horse."

Either way, I use this lovely saying when I teach workshops on the basics of Search Engine Optimisation. I refer to this saying when I explain about keywords and how to ensure you are using keywords wisely by placing yourself into your client or customers shoes to find your products.

Anyway, the internet is full of spurious "quotes". But one thing is sure, bringing a home business product or freelancing service to market requires a leap of faith that people will respond in the way you think they will.

Received business wisdom is that you need to discover and deliver precisely what your customers want, preferably before they even know they want it. That's OK for Apple, but how can a solo home business owner do that kind of research? How to do online research for your new start-up business like Apple and Amazon

Another business giant has the answer.

Amazon's Mechanical Turk uses human beings to do simple, repetitive tasks that computers just can't do.

Like decide whether one colour is more attractive than another in a logo.

Or choose between several feature options. Or make a list of email contacts from a particular industry.

The Mechanical Turk was designed by Amazon for its own use when it needed to strip out duplicates from its massive databases.

The crowdsourcing service allows you to define Human Intelligence Tasks (HITs) and get multiple responses for a nominal amount, usually one or two cents per response. You can set qualifications which users must meet, such as age or sex, or you can set a pre-qualifying test.

Computers still can't make qualitative, value-based decisions, so this "artificial artificial intelligence" provides a means to get answers from multiple real people for a small investment. Some people have criticised the site as a "virtual sweatshop", but workers (or "Turkers") are free to set their own hours and select the HITs they want to participate in.

The name Mechanical Turk comes from a famous Hungarian automaton, a machine which toured Europe in the 18th century, amazing crowds with its ability to play chess, even beating Napoleon and Benjamin Franklin.

Like the Amazon service, though, the Turk was actually powered by human intelligence, a man was hidden inside.

Do share your research success and challenges with us ...