Market research is a series of actions in which collecting, analyzing, and interpreting the information about your target market, consumers & competitors are involved. Market research helps business owners to make better decisions at the right time.
Adam Ewart (Sendmybag.com) rightly said, “Never launch a business without researching your market. If you’ve done your homework and are confident you have a unique idea, get it to market quickly”.
How Important Is Market Research
Understanding your market will ensure that you are providing the right products and services to your audience – products that they need and want. Plus, that you’re pricing them in the most accurate manner at an amount they will gladly pay.
Without researching your market, you’re just shooting in the dark. With the right type of market research, you’re shining a bright light on your target so you’ll be a lot more likely to be successful.
Easier to Focus on Important Things
When you conduct market research, it will help you focus on what’s most important to your audience and therefore to you. You cannot make assumptions about your market without confirming them by researching the situation. You might find out that your ideas are wrong or you might find out they’re correct.
Helps You Know More about Target Audience
You might think that you can wing it, but if you don’t know everything about your audience that you can, you may make a mistake. For instance, one time Coke thought it was a good idea to come out with “New Coke” without really learning about what their audience would think about that. It was a colossal failure.
Helps You Learn Which Action Is the Most Profitable
When you learn more about your market, you’ll be able to create even better products and services that your audience really wants. In fact, they will think that you’re able to read minds and will clamor to buy what you’re selling.
Helps Your Business Adapt to the Present
Even when you are marketing to the same general demographic, the morals, views, thoughts, and ideals of a demographic change over time. That’s why companies that have been around for ages have to change their marketing plans and advertising periodically because people change.
Help to Improve Decision-Making Process
Having the right information in front of you will help you make a lot better choices for your business and your audience. After all, decisions made with no information, the wrong information, or assumptions will almost always be wrong. Having the right information is going to make your choices so much better.
Helps Minimize Your Risks
When you know what your market is doing and what they want, you lower your risk of mistakes and failure when pushing out new products and services. Why waste time and money shooting in the dark when you can shine the light on your work and hit your target every time?
Helps You Develop New Strategies
The right marketing research will help you create new approaches for everything you do in your business. With market research done properly, the new things you do for your business will be more likely to work out.
Don’t just do market research once; consider it an ongoing need in order to stay competitive in your business? You’ll identify future problems faster, which will enable you to create products and services even faster too.
Gather Your Primary Research Data
If you want to succeed as a small business, you need to understand the importance of conducting market research and gathering primary source data. The difference between primary and secondary research is that you get primary information directly from your audience, and you get secondary information from other people who have surveyed an audience or conducted some type of research.
What Is Primary Data?
This is data that you’ve collected on your own without relying on someone else to collect it. You basically go directly to the source for the information. Collect it and gather it on your own. In this way, you can organize the data in the best way for your business.
Ways to Collect Your Own Data
The very best ways to collect your own data is to conduct surveys, do interviews, host focus groups, and send out questionnaires. Before you start, learn all that you can about your audience so you are sure that you’re collecting the information directly from the right source.
Using software like SurveyMonkey.com to send out a survey to your audience that you can analyze using a spreadsheet, pie charts, and other methods that help you to understand the data better.
You can also interview people one-on-one that you know are in your audience. Use Skype, Blab.im, Google Hangout, or the old-fashioned telephone to help you conduct interviews of your audience.
Host focus groups
A focus group is a diverse group of people within your target audience with whom you’ll host a discussion answering a particular question. For example, let’s say you’ve created a sales page; you can host a focus group who will try to use your sales page, and then report back how it worked.
Send out questionnaires
These measure various variables of the group taking the questionnaire. They can consist of open-ended as well as closed-ended questions. A questionnaire should only be formulated using positive statements, and should never make any assumptions about the respondent.
Sometimes interviews can end up biased due to how questions are formed or the perceived judgment of the interviewer, but by observing your audience you can gather a lot of unbiased information fast.
Include Your Secondary Research Data
Secondary research is data gathered by other people about your topic of interest. Conducting secondary research is an important start to gathering marketing research. The trick is that you need to find reputable sources for the information, understand whether or not they have an agenda outside of spreading the truth, and then confirm that information with your own primary research.
Before you even get started, you need to know where to get the information from. You want to identify valid sources of information that will work for your needs. Places that are government, educational, and industry outlets work well. Be careful about sources with a particular agenda because they may twist the information to match their own needs.
You’ll put together public data and other information from organizations and industry to develop a start to the secondary research you’re conducting. If you ask yourself what you want to find out and then collect information that answers that question, it’ll be easier to know what to keep.
Sometimes you’ll find conflicting information from different sources. Take a look at that data closely to be sure that the interpretation that you found is accurate in terms of what was really collected. You may need to throw out some sources in favor of others that you deem more accurate.
Once you’ve determined that the information you’ve collected is accurate, fair and representative of your market, you can put it together in a way that’s easy to interpret. Using words, plus graphics and images is often the best way to make the information understandable. What’s more, you’ll want to determine whether you’re putting the information together for yourself to use internally or for your audience.
Reliable Sources of Data
Identifying legitimate places to collect reliable data about your market means that you need to ask the right questions. What are the qualifications of the person who collected the data first? What sources do they use? Can you check out the source for yourself to ensure that the way they reported it is right?
Most of the time you can assume the following sources are accurate, but you should always look to potential bias when others report their findings.
Government websites that end with .gov are usually very accurate with the information they provide. The reason is that they have to be unbiased with the information they collect and report, and they understand how to do it right.
While some industry associations might put out some information that is biased toward their industry, their methods of collecting the raw data are usually very above board. You can typically trust an industry association for accurate data.
The same applies to trade groups. Of course, they want to represent their trade well, but that is the only place their bias exists. They collect the information in ways that lend themselves to accurate reporting.
Generally, business magazines that are well known and are real publications and not just advertorials in disguise will have accurate information that you can use to get started with collecting your data. If nothing else, they may lead you to more sources.
Usually, these websites end in .edu and can be relied upon to produce accurate information collected ethically. You can find the info online, but you can also visit their libraries in many cases. You can access academic information and scholarly information via Google Scholar.
Sources like The New York Times and other reputable newspapers are great places to start your research. While you should take care of opinion pieces, even slanted and biased opinion pieces can get you started if they list their sources so that you can go straight to the information. Typically, newspapers have fact-checkers so most of the time you can be assured that the information is accurate.
Third-Party Research Groups
There are also companies that do research independently about various industries and information. These are excellent places to look for great information about your industry to help you answer your questions. One very reputable group is Pew Research Center.
You can also get information from well-connected and well-credentialed individuals who are known as experts in their field. Not only is this a great way to get the right information for your research, but it’s also primary data which is a lot more beneficial than secondary data.
Finding reliable data for your research about your market is an essential step to conducting market research. You need the right information at the right time to answer your questions and help you move your business forward.
Organize Your Market Research Data
Most market research culminates with a report of the findings. It’s important to determine how you’ll organize the data even before you start collecting it so that you’re sure that you’re using the right methods to gather the data. The report should be useful for you to use when you are trying to create products, market products, or otherwise communicate with your audience. Here are some tips.
How Will You Use the Data?
The way in which you will use the data matters a lot in terms of how you’ll organize it. For example, if you are conducting research that will help you create a brand new solution for your audience, and then you’ll want to organize the data for internal use.
The Type of Data
Some types of data will work great in a spreadsheet, others in a pie chart; some will be best reported in writing within a report. You’ll need to determine by the type of data how you’ll best organize it.
What Are You Trying to Impact?
If you’re trying to determine how you can affect your revenue, then you’ll want to study issues that you can impact like click-through rate, sales conversions, traffic, and more. Ask yourself what results from you expect and then move from there.
What Impacts Your Goals?
Sometimes the things we do impact what we are hoping to change. For example, if you want to make more sales, but you don’t create or hire someone who has experience making amazing and high converting sales pages, you might not succeed.
Create a Logical Naming Convention
One thing that can be irritating when it comes to organizing data is being able to find it when you need to use it. Thankfully, you can figure out a logical naming convention to use so that when you do a search for the information on your computer, Google Drive or Dropbox, you’ll be able to locate the information easier. Set up a naming convention that includes the subject matter keywords, data, and results and discovery information.
Clean It Up
Once you collect data, you’ll need to determine what data is useful and what is not useful. Determine which data is important for you, is easily quantifiable, and allows you to make good decisions. Throw everything else out, because you don’t need it.
Mix It Up
Use different methods for demonstrating the data that you need to understand and that others in your organization may need to understand. Write out in words what it means, as well as show it pictorially via graphs and charts.
Include a Table of Contents
For the main report, you want to include a table of contents, because that is also a good way to allow search for the information within the document. If you also include keywords, you’ll be able to easily find the document when searching.
Organizing your market research data is an important part of conducting market research. Without being able to easily understand and interpret what the information you’ve gathered means, it’s essentially useless. The process of the organization will help you to better understand and put to use your hard work.
Helpful Tools for Your Market Research
When you start conducting market research, you’ll need to collect a few tools of the trade. Thankfully, today there are so many automated tools to help you conduct market research like a pro at very little cost, and in some cases even free
This is a beautiful form creator that you can use to collect information from your audience in an easy way and post them right on your social media accounts. There is a free and paid version. It shows only one question at a time, which can help encourage your audience to finish. You can even accept payments via your forms if you want them to sign up for something after finishing your survey.
Link – https://www.typeform.com
This can be used free, or you can upgrade it to get more features. But, you can do a good survey with the free version for up to ten questions and 100 respondents. So, if your audience is small you can get a good enough sample with the free version. There are wonderful analytic features with this software.
Link – https://www.surveymonkey.com
If you want to know what your audience is doing and looking at when they use your website, this is a great type of software to help you know how to improve your online real-estate and get the best engagement from your visitors.
Link – https://heat-map.co
Included with your Facebook business page, you can use their Insights tool for free. It will tell you the demographics of your viewers, the breakdown of your audience by interest, and much more.
Your good old autoresponder service can be used to deliver any survey, questionnaire, or request for interviews to your audience. If you don’t yet have an email list, take some time to build one, because having an active email list will help you with your market research exponentially.
Link – https://www.aweber.com
You can use Google Insights Databoard to help you explore a lot of information. Use that info to create custom infographics, which can help you understand the information that you’ve researched.
Link – https://think.withgoogle.com/databoard
US Census Bureau
Using the information you can find via the US Census Bureau is the best way to find secondary data which can help you figure out where to find the audience to collect primary data.
You’ve heard that you should create personas that represent your target audience, and this app will help you do it even better, using real-life stats. Being able to visualize your audience can help immensely.
Link – https://personapp.io
Conducting marketing research is very important for the future of any business because it’s the only real way to know for sure what your audience wants and needs. If you’re not sure who they are, you can’t be sure about what they want. Doing market research will answer all of those questions for you. Using the right tools will make it easy to do.
Feel free to criticize me. You are always welcome!
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