Market research sounds like something that only the big boys should be into, but even a small business should at least consider conducting a few research cycles. Market research allows you to understand your customers, keep your company relevant to market changes, and can allow you to set realistic goals that reflect the status of your audience. There are a few ways to conduct an effective market research campaign without having to break the bank.
Surveys and Focus Groups
The old ways continue to be relevant, simply because they work. The simplest way to figure out what customers want is to ask them. Surveys and focus groups allow you to do that. Each has its own benefits.
Surveys can be sent to your target demographic or audience and are great for getting a glimpse at the big picture. While figuring out your target audience should be easy, the problem lies in the survey itself. Wording a question wrong can lead to skewed and thus unusable results. If you aren’t sure how to go about it, a marketing consultant can make sure that you’re not wasting your time. Better to spend a little money on a consultant rather than send out a worthless survey.
A focus group will require you to get five to ten people together for around ninety minutes. These ninety minutes are going to be spent brainstorming on why they like or dislike certain aspects of your business. Be sure to have questions prepared to direct the conversation and to make sure that they’re always discussing something. While the sample size is much smaller than a survey, it can allow you to get more detailed feedback.
Study the Competition
Success requires doing a specific number in response to the environment. That means that studying successful competition can give you a clue as to what they are seeing that you are not. Go visit their store and pay attention to how many customers they have. Pay attention to their advertising campaigns and try to figure out their angle. Not only is it a fine mental exercise, it might show you a different way to conduct business that you can use and apply to your company.
You can also get some information from the government, if you’re looking for more technical data.
Look for Students
Marketing professors are always eager to send their students out to see the real world. Practical application of marketing theory is an incredibly useful learning tool. So go to a nearby school and ask around. See if there are any professors looking for an opportunity to send their students out. It might cost you some money, but it will still be cheaper than going with a marketing firm.
If you’re doing your market research right, you’re bound to find negative feedback mixed in with the positive responses. Don’t fret. It can be tempting to focus only on the positives, but that would defeat the purpose of your market research. You can only make your business better by learning what’s holding it back and changing it accordingly.