“Failure to do market research before you begin a business venture or during its operation is like driving a car from Texas to New York without a map or street signs,” William Bill of Wealth Design Group LLC in Houston says.
Bill couldn’t be more right. Marketing research zeroes in on what kind of exciting and new products and services can bring in the customers, profits and more. When you do this type of research, there are two things you can do with the results: first, you can use it to create a business and/or marketing plan, or you can use it to measure up the success of the plan you’ve already got in place.
Needless to say, it’s critical to ask the right types of questions, in the right method, to the right people.
After all, when research isn’t done correctly or thoroughly, it puts your business at risk. So when you’re ready to start researching, follow these basic but essential steps to avoid any mistakes.
First, begin with primary research. The goal here is to gather up data from your current sales and see how well your practices are doing. One thing you want to keep in mind: Any and all competitors plans. This way, you can keep this information in the back of your mind going forward.
So how do you do this? There are a few different ways. You can start by conducting interviews (either in person or on the phone), surveys through the mail or online, questions, and even focus groups where you’re able to get direct feedback.
Then make sure you ask the right kinds of questions we mentioned earlier. Some of these may include:
- What elements do you consider when you go to purchase this service or product?
- What is one thing you like about these products on the market? What’s one thing you don’t like?
- What would you suggest for improvements?
- What do you feel is an accurate price for a service or product?
Once you’ve got a solid group of answers, start analyzing any data that you’ve already published. With this type of secondary data, you’re able to zone in on the competitors, create benchmarks and focus on target sections. These sections are any people who may fall into the demographic you’re targeting. In other words, people who live specific lifestyles, have certain behavioral patters or even are within a certain age range.
Of course it goes without saying – there’s no business in the world that can say afloat without knowing its products, services, customers and overall market. No matter what industry you’re in, there’s competition. So skipping over research means your competitors get a leg on you.
It’s yet another reason to collect data. And when it comes to data, there are two major categories: qualitative and quantitative. Quantitative involves a large sample size and mathematical analysis. Sound too complicated? You likely have web analytics at your fingertips already – it’s available on Google. Once you have this information, you’ll be able to see how long people stayed on your site, which pages they’re exiting from and where your leads are coming from.
On the other hand, qualitative methods help you strum up on your quantitative methods. It’ll help you clearly lay-out problems and generally uses interview-like methods to dissect your customer’s values, beliefs and opinions. With this research, the sample size is usually smaller.
Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or new to the world of business, make sure you avoid these common pitfalls:
- Sticking with secondary research only. Just focusing on what others publish simply isn’t enough for you to get the whole picture. While it’s a great starting point, this type of information can be outdated. You don’t want to miss any other relevant or key factors.
- Focusing on web resources only. Sure, the web is a great spot to find information. But information from search engines is available to everyone – plus, they might not be completely accurate.
- Interviewing people you know only. Sometimes we get in the habit of interviewing our colleagues or even family members when we’re looking for research. But to get the best and more accurate results, expand your horizons and talk to new customers about what their needs and wants are, as well as their expectations.