Great question! The short answer is, yes, market research matters for every business. Large or small, every company has to sell something to someone. How do you know what to sell, or who to sell it to, if you aren’t aware of your market?
If You Build It, No One Cares
Let’s face it – just creating something and putting it out into the world isn’t enough. It was never enough. You have to connect your product or service with those who need it. So, that means you have to know what you’re creating, who needs it, where those people hang out, and what kind of outreach they respond to.
Doing market research gives you access to the data you need to answer those burning questions. Once you know the answers, you’ll be able to position your product or service in front of the right audience, in a way that they will receive it and be ready to purchase.
Basic Steps of Market Research
There are five basic steps of market research. These steps don’t vary depending on the type of business you have, but the questions you ask and the answers you get will be based on your industry and objectives.
Step 1: Define Your Questions The free report I offered above will do most of this for you. Ask what you’re doing, why, and who you’re doing it for. Ask where those customers look for information and where they spend their time. Ask what types of outreach they listen to – will they shut out an unconventional voice? Or do they hate stuffy businesses? You need to know.
Step 2: Define Your Research Objectives Determine what the purpose of your market research is. If you’re just starting, you’ll be trying to define your branding approach. In the future, as you continue to do market research (and you will), you will have other goals in mind, such as keeping up with innovations in your industry.
Step 3: Find Out Where the Data Already Exists The internet makes the world an amazing place. So many people do research every day, and they publish it for the public to see – often for free! The third step of market research is to find out who already has done the work you are looking for. Look for top blogs in your niche, or Google “your niche market research”. You’ll find that a lot of your work is already done for you.
Step 4: Do Your Own Research Through Surveys If you already have an audience or following, you can do your own primary research through surveys. Everything from a casual Facebook or blog post asking, “What are your primary concerns?” to an official survey with analytics can be effective. There are many services available that make conducting online surveys quick and cheap for small businesses. You’ll have information directly from your existing followers and customers, which is super valuable.
Step 5: Learn From Your Results and Implement Changes Having data is wonderful, but if you don’t act on it you’re missing the boat entirely. Analyze the data you’ve found, and use it to get solid answers to the questions you asked in Step 1. With those answers, implement the changes your business needs to grow and succeed.
Once You’ve Done the Research, Do it Again
A company’s need for market research never ends. Your market may change over time, and you may have to revisit the basic questions you asked about your products and customers. Or, you may have a more specific need – to pinpoint a problem in your process, or to innovate to keep up in your industry. A business owner’s work is never truly done, but that’s what makes running your own show so challenging and rewarding. So – what’s stopping you? Get your market research going!
What’s the biggest insight you’ve gained from market research? Share in the comments!