When starting your own business, you can’t just dive in headfirst and hope for the best. That’s the fastest way to lose money and set yourself up for failure.
You first need to do thorough business research. Find out more about the niche you’re interested in, see what the competition’s like, understand what your target customers want. Only then can you ensure your success.
Market research is at the core of any company. It drives growth, boosts profits, and helps you establish yourself as a leader in your niche.
But how do you conduct market research properly? How do you know when you’ve gathered enough information? Let’s find out.
Understand That Business Research Requires Commitment
Before you even start developing any market research strategy, there’s one thing you need to understand. Market research isn’t a one-time item you can cross from your to-do list. It’s an ongoing process that should continue for as long as you’re running a business.
Market trends are in a constant state of flux, and you need to be continuously keeping an eye on them. Your industry and niche are irrelevant. Your target audience will change. Your competitors will change. Industry trends will change.
The only way to adapt to these changes is by seeing them coming.
Prioritize Your Needs
Once you’ve realized that market research requires a continuous commitment, it’s time to start planning your research strategy.
You’ll be collecting an abundance of information, which can be overwhelming. You need to find out who your target audience is, their demographics, interests, shopping habits, their financial situation. You must learn what strengths and weaknesses your competitors have, and why your target audience chooses them. These are just some of the basic examples.
So as not to get lost in the sheer amount of information you need to gather, you must make a list of priorities. Which information is the most essential to your business right now? Which information do you need, but you can do without at the moment?
Start with a very specific list of priorities, then work your way up. Since market research is an ongoing process, you’ll gather the remaining information later on.
You Need More Than One Market Research Strategy
Since you’ll have an abundance of varying information to collect, it makes sense that you can’t do it with a single strategy. You need to develop several different plans that’ll help you on your way.
Here are some of the most efficient strategies that drive results.
Develop Buyer Persona
Developing a buyer persona will help you in virtually every aspect of your business. It will define how you communicate with your target audiences, help you develop more relevant marketing strategies, improve your sales funnel, and more.
Developing a buyer persona is easy if you already have customers. You just need to analyze them and create a unified persona based on that information.
However, if you’re just starting out, it takes more effort. The best way to create a detailed buyer persona is by checking out the competition. Do your direct competitors mostly sell to younger audiences, or perhaps senior citizens? Are their customers primarily college students with an interest in music, or adults employed in financial sectors?
By having a detailed buyer persona, you’ll know how your actual audience will respond to your business.
Conduct Surveys with Focus Groups and Interviews
If you need more information about your ideal audience, the simplest way to collect it is by conducting surveys and interviews or observing focus groups.
Surveys can have open- or closed-ended questions, depending on your needs. They’re easy to share on social media, send via email, or publish on your website, so they can be very effective. To get the most out of your surveys, keep them short and simple. No one wants to spend half an hour filling in their answers.
Interviews require more effort, but they can provide better insights. Since they’re up close and personal, you’ll learn much more than from an anonymous survey.
Finally, focus groups are ideal for gathering feedback on your products/services from your target buyers. You’ll learn what your biggest selling point is, and you’ll find out whether there’s anything you’ll need to improve upon.
Do Brand Awareness Research
Brand awareness research can tell you more about the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. The better your marketing strategy, the bigger the audience you’ll have.
To conduct brand awareness research, you can use several tactics:
- Perform surveys;
- Analyze your website traffic;
- Take a look at the volume of searches for your company name;
- Rely on social listening;
Competitor analysis can help you in several ways:
- It can inform you about any gaps in the market that your product/service could fill.
- It can help you develop new or better products/services.
- It can tell you more about your target audience.
- It can help you understand and avoid common pitfalls.
- It can boost your marketing efforts.
You can perform competitor analysis simply by observing them. Pay attention to their marketing tactics, notice how they use social media, and see how they promote their products. Check out their websites and see what their customers are saying online. Read the reviews, perform a simple Google search with the competitor’s name to see what kind of results you’ll get.
Customer Satisfaction Research
Finally, for a perfect market research strategy, you’ll need to gather customer feedback. Go through your reviews or launch a quiz or survey to find out how satisfied your customers are. Encourage your audience to communicate their satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) with your products/services.
Now and then, perform an analysis of your own company in the same way you would of your competitors’. Be objective and notice all your strengths and weaknesses.
Communicate Market Research Findings with All Employees
Even the best market research strategy wouldn’t mean much unless you communicate the results with all your employees. Everyone from the financial sector to your cashiers needs to know your findings.
Keeping everyone informed will help you develop a unified approach to customers and clients that drives results. It will also help your team understand the significance of market research and all that hard work.
The Bottom Line
For a perfect market research strategy, you need commitment and dedication. Doing the business research right and performing an accurate analysis will help you take your company to the next level.
So, do not neglect market research. And, if you cannot perform it yourself, partner up with research companies that can help you along.