Whoever said, “there are no stupid questions, just stupid people,” was stupid. There are plenty of stupid questions, and they are among the most powerful tools you have at your disposal for creating a successful business.

Here’s the truth: No one knows your business as well as you (nor should they).

Unfortunately, many companies talk to customers and potential buyers as if they are coming to the table with the same knowledge base. This critical mistake may turn off your target audience and leave them feeling misunderstood and overwhelmed.

As a content marketer, I help companies share information about their products and services. One of my biggest pieces of advice is to ask stupid questions about your business before you start talking about it.

This process, which can uncover useful information, requires some humility. It may feel stupid to ask your target audience (or even friends and family) questions like, “why would you buy my service” or “how does my product work,” but the answers are critical for creating messaging that sells.

Get in front of as many people as possible, even those you don’t consider a target market. Sometimes the stupidest (and best) questions come from the unlikeliest sources. Let everyone play with your product or hear about your services, and use your website. Then give them permission to ask you anything.

The people using your product or service don’t share your encyclopedic knowledge about it, but their experiences are far more important. After all, if they don’t understand and love what you have to offer, then selling to them is impossible.

Listening without judgment is key. Remember, these are probably going to sound like stupid questions to you but there is something to be learned if only you curb your instinct to explain, justify, rationalize, or roll your eyes. Take notes on everything you hear, even if it seems totally silly to you, and watch for trends. If more than one person asks the same stupid question, it’s probably not so stupid after all.

By now you are probably thinking, “she’s just describing a focus group.” That’s true, it just happens to be a more organic, valuable, and cheaper DIY version. Long before you can afford to hire a big marketing firm to organize a formal roundtable of targeted users, you can empower yourself to improve your product using useful data from real-world users.

So the next time you find yourself saying, “that’s a stupid question,” stop and explore whether it might actually be an opportunity to improve.

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