I run a small business, should I be doing market research?

Why should I do Market ResearchIt doesn’t matter how big your business is, market research is an important part of your whole business strategy.

Rather than just a one-off activity, in order to remain successful, conducting research on a continual basis will allow you to keep up with market trends and maintain a competitive edge.

Why should I do market research?

Depending on what kind of business you run and what stage you’re at in your business, market research will not only help you to identify exactly who your target customers are, but it will also enable you to understand how they tick.

For instance, if you’re a new start-up, canvassing passers-by to take part in a trial of a new product or answering specific questions about the service you are offering, will help you to decide whether it’s right for your target market before you take it to market.

If you are a more established business, market research can help you to understand why your customers choose your product/service over competitors and it will enable you to set realistic targets for specific growth areas, introduce new sales tactics and launch new products.

Similarly it will help you to make informed decisions about whether you should be consolidating, diversifying or reducing your business activities.

There might be several different reasons for conducting some form of market research; you may have identified a business problem such as a fall in sales, a competitor may have entered your marketplace or another similar product may have become available.

3 cost-effective research methods for a small business

Desk research – gathering and analyzing information, already available in print or published on the internet.  This can be very cost effective as it relies on existing market data which can provide you with key information about your market size, value and trends.
Together with your own sales data and that of your competitors, this form of research will give you valuable information that can help you to understand sales and geographic and demographic trends.

Online Surveys – a relatively low cost method, which involves respondents signing up to take part in an online survey – sometimes in return for a small reward, or entry into a prize draw.  This method is a great option for smaller businesses taking advantage of some easy online survey tools; the results of which can be used to answer some key questions about your business or to research your target market.
Information is gathered automatically and the response rate can be almost instant.  One of the main benefits of online surveys is that it saves time.  The data is instantly available and can easily be transferred onto a spreadsheet, or other business application, if a more detailed analysis is required. You can design your own survey with one of the many free online survey tools such as SurveyMonkey or Zoomerang.

Hall Tests – designed to get consumers to ‘try out’ specific products.   Respondents are recruited on the street and guided to where the test is taking place and asked to canvass opinion in a public space (often a church hall or similar).
They are invited to try out specific products such as food & drink, magazines, cleaning products etc. so you can identify any strengths and weaknesses before launching the product.  Whilst you could achieve some really useful in-depth comments from respondents, this type of research needs to be carefully planned and executed to be successful.  Respondents are also often given incentives to do this.

So whether you’re a new start-up or you need to find out more about how your customers tick, conducting a piece of research will allow you to keep up with what’s going on in your own market and enable you to continue maintaining a competitive edge!

Christine Davey
@DaveyMarketing

If you’d like some help on planning your marketing Tweet me or call me on 01273 772033 today.

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