How to conduct market research

How to conduct market research

You know your product or service and how it works. However, do you know your audience and what motivates them? You need to understand your target audience in order to build your business. What do they need from your business? How do you reach them? How are you different and better than your competitors? Outlook Business Solutions can help you do that. 

This is where market research comes in. Market research gathers and interprets information about target markets, the industry, competitors and customers. Market research can be used to differentiate you from your competitors. It can help you determine which platforms or places you need to be to reach your customers. It can help you understand the market and how to price your product or service. It is an essential part of your business plan.

There are two types of market research. Qualitative research uses observation to gain non-numerical data. It includes interviews, ethnography and focus groups. Quantitative research measures variables using a numerical system, which analyzes the measurements using a statistical model and then reports relationships and associations among the studied variables. Customer surveys and secondary data are examples of quantitative research. Primary research is firsthand information about your market and its customers. Secondary research is public data and records you can obtain such as internal reports, commercial data and public sources.

Now that you know what market research is, let’s begin the process. Here are five easy steps to get started.

1. Define the customer you want to engage with. Who do you want to reach and how does your product or service help them? What do they want and how do you connect with them? You will need to answer these questions about your target audience.

  • Age
  • Location
  • Gender
  • Income
  • Family size/relationship status
  • Education
  • Job title
  • Interests
  • Major challenges and goals
  • There are many websites where you can download free buyer persona templates. You may find that your business has more than one persona. If so, be very specific about which audience you’re targeting and where to reach them.

2. Choose who to survey. Now that you know your audience, you’ll need to find a representative sample of your targeted customer to understand their actual characteristics, challenges and buying habits. These may be customers that have recently made a purchase from you. You can reach out to them with:

  • Personal interviews by phone or in-person 
  • In-person focus groups
  • Mail or online surveys

Choose customers that exhibit the buying characteristics that you have identified. You’ll want to speak with more than one customer. At Outlook Business solutions, we can help you determine a representative group that could also include people that have purchased from your competitor and some who decided not to purchase anything. You may need to consider giving your participants an incentive to take part in the research study if you’ll be asking them to spend a considerable amount of time with you. A handwritten note is also a nice way to thank someone for participating.

3. Develop your questions. The more prepared you are, the better your results will be. Create an outline of what you want to cover and how long you will spend on each topic for interviews and focus groups. Define your questions for an online or mail survey. Be sure to include open-ended questions for deeper insight.

4. Identify and understand your competition. Secondary research will be the best option to find out this type of information. Determine which industries and markets you want to compete in and then get started. Use search engines to help you. Download reports on websites like Forrester or Gartner. You can also conduct research on social media and Google Trends

5. Compile the data and summarize your findings. Look for common themes that will help you tell your story. Develop a list of your action items. Determine how you want to present and share your findings.

Market research informs and directs you as you develop plans, content and marketing materials. It brings new information to light to give you a competitive edge in the market. Conduct research routinely to stay informed on competitors and new market trends. Even if you think you know your market, you will discover more information that will help you communicate better with your customers. Contact Outlook Business Solutions to learn more about developing surveys and identifying your target audience.