With a new company idea popping up every second and entrepreneurs everywhere you look, how can your business stand out? Market research will give you the upper hand, even if you’re already positive that you have a perfect product: it’s an essential step for success in the internet age.
Thousands of marketing and advertising companies offer research into your market of choice as a service, but is it really necessary? The short answer is yes. The long answer starts with some basic information.
What Is Market Research and How Do You Do It?
Market research at its simplest is finding out what consumers want, and whether your product meets those needs. Data like the social media people are using to find your product or service, the demographic most likely to use it, and customer complaints about your competitors all fall under the market research umbrella.
The broad term ‘market research’ is divided into two phases:
- Primary market research: Primary market research is comprised of you going out there and conducting your own research. Analyzing surveys, finding out which techniques your direct competitors are utilizing, and looking to see what customers are looking for right now are all primary market research.
- Secondary market research: Secondary market research is the term for learning by analyzing data someone else has already done. Published studies, government data, and social media statistics are all useful secondary market research, although it’s important to keep in mind that anyone can access this, so it may not give you the cutting edge you’re hoping for.
Why You Should Be Conducting Marketing Research
Market research helps you understand your customers better.
When you know what your customers are looking for, you’ll be able to tweak your product or service to fit the market better. This is true whether you’ve already released or you’re still in the planning stages. You can always change something that fell flat.
Researching the places that use similar services and products will also give you a good idea of where you may expand in the future, or the best demographics to target with advertising. Does your target audience use Instagram instead of Facebook? Great! The market research done to find out that information gives you a bigger bang for your buck by putting ads where people will see them.
You can also see what kinds of promotional materials are relevant to your customers’ interests. Depending on your service, a cute commercial could be a viral sensation or a total flop. The same is true for a wry Tweet. Market research gives you better insight into what your ideal customer wants.
Your competitors are definitely using market research techniques.
At this point, most companies are utilizing market research. It just makes sense! If you choose not to, you’re putting yourself behind in the race for success.
Understanding your competitors is an important facet of market research. If what they’re doing is working, you want to know why. If it isn’t, you’ll want to avoid making those same mistakes. On top of that, you can find dissatisfied customers who have had a bad experience with a different business and then learn from that mistake without making it on your own.
Market research allows you to test your product before launch.
Before pouring your hard-earned savings into your business, you’ll want to make sure that it’s going to succeed. Market research allows you to find out if there’s a need for your product or service, and to create prototypes before completely diving in. For example, if your vision involved a beautiful (and expensive) case, but you find that nobody uses the cases in similar products, perhaps that’s a place to save some money.
You’ll also be able to find opportunities for add-ons and upgrades. What feature is your product or service missing? Can you either bundle it into your standard price, or offer it as an additional item? There’s even a chance you might be able to create a mutually beneficial partnership with another company, if your goals are aligned and your customers need both your services.
You can set better goals for your company with market research.
It’s easy to come up with goals like, “I want to double our sales from this year,” or “I want to expand to two more locations,” but do you know if they’re actually feasible? Researching what the market looks like gives you the best picture of the field and what success will really look like.
Make sure your goals are specific enough that you can find data to support their plausibility, and realistic enough that you can tackle them thoughtfully. After all, if you find out that your city is uninterested in your product, but the next town over is begging for it, you might take a different approach than you would have without conducting any market research.
Market research helps you identify problems before they happen.
As you grow into a bigger, different company, you may find yourself dealing with new problems. Whether that’s managing a more extensive website or supplying customer service to more people, you need to anticipate that change.
With market research, you can solve your own challenges, sometimes before they happen at all. If you learn of complaints or failures in your field, you can make efforts to correct those mistakes. The same is true of branding errors: a great product that doesn’t fit your brand may come across as dishonest or pandering. You’ll only know if you put in the work to uncover how your audience will feel.
Market research shows you how to focus your message.
A common mistake, especially among younger business owners, is trying to do too much, too quickly. All the ideas you want to implement may be fantastic, but make sure to research to see if they’re actually being sought.
The features and benefits of your company should be clear and designed to directly solve your customers’ problem. Buzzwords, vague statements, and phrases that don’t really mean anything will make it more difficult for people to trust your brand. Be specific, be concise, and tell them that your company is the one they should choose.
Market research covers a lot of ground. It’s a great idea to trust the experts when it comes to analyzing the data that will make your business successful. Whether you’re producing a tangible product, offering a service, or something completely new, conducting market research is the key to succeeding.
The MSR Group specializes in helping our clients get the most out of their market research. Learn more about our APECS Workforce solution and you’ll find the best ways to continue to grow your business!