I’ve been working with a wide range of clients and the one thing that has been on their priority list, has been research, research, research… That research comes in many forms from market intelligence to product pricing even deciding which ecommerce platform is best suited a) to the business, b) the the owner so it’s easy-to-use and c) monthly price to reflect the clients budget.
During this process I found some 10 areas that can be applied to any type of research and I wanted to share them with you.
1. Know what you need to learn. If you’re a startup, you might use market research to pinpoint your target customers. If you’re expanding, you might use it to determine where to open a new location. Stay focused by listing specific questions you must answer.
2. Research your industry. Assess whether the industry you plan to enter is growing or declining. What niches are most promising? Once you’re in business, keep up with industry news to stay on top of trends.
3. Research your target customers. If you sell within a limited area, you’ll want to know the population, income level and demographic breakdown of the residents. If you sell online, your customer base might be nationwide or worldwide, but you still need to determine how many potential customers exist.
4. Research your competition. Assess your competition locally, nationally and globally. Create a “SWOT” analysis of your competition’s strengths, weaknesses, and the opportunities for and threats to your business that they pose.
5. Research your indirect competition. If you’re opening an Italian restaurant, your competition isn’t just another pizza restaurants. It’s any restaurant — and any place where people spend discretionary income, such as bars, nightclubs, bowling alley or cinema.
6. Gather published information. Go online or visit your library for information from industry publications and websites, associations, trade shows and conferences, and consumer publications. Take a look at Market Research or the Government’s Resources for Business.
7. Do surveys. Surveying potential customers is easy and free using online survey tools such as SurveyMonkey. Poll customers on your website or by e-mail, and analyse the results.
8. Focus. Recruit people from your target market for a focus group. If you target moms, for example, contact local PTAs. Pay participants for their time and get demographic information to ensure you have a broad sample. Show them your products or explain your services, and get feedback.
9. Get help. There are many free or low-cost sources of assistance, including Smarta or Startups. Contact nearby college or university business or marketing departments; sometimes professors and students will help you research as part of a class project.
10. Keep it up. Make market research part of your day-to-day business activities. Use receipts, delivery orders and invoices to track where customers come from. Monitor inventory trends to track which products sell best. Use Google alerts and Twitter search to see what people are saying about your business and your competitors. Staying on top of customers’ needs and interests will reveal potential growth areas.
Are you ready to use Market Research for your Business?