In a perfect world we could do business the way we want to, and put out whatever product we want to sell no matter what it is. Unfortunately, that’s just not the way it works when you have all different types of people with different likes and dislikes. You won’t be able to please everyone, and that’s totally ok.
But it also brings me to a point of talking about market research. This might be dreadful for some entrepreneurs (if you’re doing it yourself) but it’s something that can be outsourced so there’s no reason not to get it done. The bottom line is, you have to know what’s going on in your potential customers’ world and in your competitors’ world. It really is a vital part of your business because you don’t wanna go and create stuff that people don’t want.
How will you make the money?
You won’t. So that’s why I’m going to give out some tips on how to stay on top of your market research. Note: It’s not a one time thing and “boom!” its’ done.
Not at all. Just like everything else in the world changes, so do people (their wants and needs), and business owners (how they do it and what they do).
So let’s jump into these tips.
Before you start, know what it is that you need
If you’re like me and you’re doing business online, or maybe in start-up mode, knowing how people are receiving and reacting to your service is a critical piece of information. You don’t wanna play guessing games or just make assumptions because 9 times out of 10, they won’t be accurate. With that being said, you’re going to have to collect some data first hand.
Let’s say you are setting up your branding campaign or planning for it. You’re going to need to know the target demographic to market to. Let’s go back to your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) for a moment.
- Who will you be speaking to with your marketing efforts?
- What is their: Age, Gender, Location, etc?
- Where do they: Hang out, Go to school, Work, etc?
These are just a few questions to get you started if you don’t already have this part done.
Now, for retail, you should think about knowing your competitors’ pricing and business strategy. You might be thinking “Why do I need to know that stuff?”
It’s actually a great thing to know because you’re in business to win in business. And this can go two ways (that I can think of at the moment). If your competition is rockin’ it in the business world, great. Take heed to what they are doing and put your own flavor on that to make it even better for customers. No need to reinvent any wheels if something is working really good.
Turn your competition into your colleagues and form joint ventures together. Why not work together and make it a win win for everybody?
So, before you start your research, grab a cup of coffee or tea, or whatever you drink, and figure out exactly what data you need. Otherwise you risk the chance of spending your valuable time, energy and money on gathering info that won’t really have an impact on your bottom line. And that wouldn’t be pretty.
Quantitative vs Qualitative (Quantity vs Quality)
These are two primary kinds of data. Just like in most cases, quantitative is a numbers game. You can look at how many people are coming to your website, how many are going to your competitor’s website, and so on. Anything dealing with numbers (all the way down to social media fans and followers) is considered quantitative.
Now qualitative data is more like getting the actual sense of what’s going on. It’s like looking over your customer’s shoulder to see how they use your service and what they think about it (which can be done with questionnaires, surveys, email, etc.)
Once you get this info you can kind of get an idea on where to go from there. For instance, I’m subscribed to Tiffany Lambert’s list (I absolutely love PLR and her style of writing it) and she recently sent out a couple of emails talking about how some people like the personalization she gives in her emails and others don’t necessarily think it’s appropriate. She talks about the kids, what they are having for dinner and so on, but personally, I love it.
I think being personal like that and letting people into your world like you would do a friend is a good way of building a good, loyal relationship. But some people feel differently and you just can’t please everyone. That’s why market research is important.
Conducting quantitative research can and should be done more often than qualitative, which can go for six months or so. You definitely want to keep tracking your key metrics at all times.
Watch the competition
I hate to use the word “spy” even though that’s what it is. There are different ways to do this, and I should know because I do it often.
1. You can become a fan of their Facebook page.
2. You can follow them on Twitter to see their latest tweets.
3. You can take a look at their stats on SpyFu and Compete. You’ll get a rough estimate of their traffic, what their sources of traffic are and what kind of keywords they rank for.
Now if you wanna go big by competing with a public company or a company that’s held by one, you can look up their annual reports on Morningstar Document Research or buy a couple shares to get their annual reports and other updates on them.
However you do it, just note that people change, markets change, and how your competition operates will change. It’s your job to stay on top of the changes and deliver an even better experience to customers on a daily basis.
What’s your take on market research?