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how to conduct market research small business

You came up with a great idea that is sure to captivate your target audience. This is your opportunity to jump right in. But wait! Before you shift into overdrive, you need to be sure that there is really a market for your product.

Market Research Tips for Small Businesses

So, how does a budding entrepreneur make this happen? Market research.

Market Research Methods: Getting Started

In an attempt to avoid negative feedback, many business owners avoid conducting this crucial step. They are positive that their product is great just the way it is, and they have no reason to change it.

Other budding entrepreneurs may bypass market research because they think it is too expensive.

Primary Research

primary market research small business

Yet your primary research is the foundation of building successful campaigns. By focusing on specific groups via phone interviews, surveys, and even face-to-face contact, you gain invaluable insight into what your target audience wants as well as into consumer psychology. It also helps increase brand awareness. Primary research is also useful when creating buyer personas.

Primary research can be divided into two categories: exploratory research and secondary.

Exploratory research is focused more on potential issues within your campaign and less on actual measurable consumer trends. Performed as the first step in market research, it usually encompasses only small groups of people.

Specific research follows exploratory and dives headfirst into possible problems and opportunities that your brand identifies. During this phase, research is more focused on specifics as opposed to generalized ideas.

Secondary research would also include industry news, trend reports, and marketing statistics that you already have about your company.

How to Perform Market Research: A 5-Step Method

Performing research doesn’t need to be difficult; however, it does need to be complete and inclusive of specific information.

1 - Create Buyer Personas

Learning how your customers make their buying decisions is important; however, it’s essential that you know who they are. Knowing who your buyer personas are is just the beginning during your research of the primary market.

Buyer personas are fictional representations of your perfect customer. Personas help you develop your strategy, streamline your communications, and visualize your ideal audience.

Some key characteristics that you should focus on including in your business persona are:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Job titles
  • Family size
  • Income

Basically, the idea is to help you use your persona as a guide when you experience real life customers. For all you know, your business may end up having multiple personas and that’s perfectly fine! Just be certain that you’re being thoughtful about the persona you’re planning to optimize. It’ll make things easier when you’re planning campaigns and content.

2 - Identify Market Segments

market research surveys

Now that you’ve learned about buyer personas, it’s time for you to find a sample of your ideal customers. Doing this is going to help you understand the customer’s buying habits, challenges, and characteristics.

Your customers should be people who recently bought something or who have decided not to make a purchase.

Here are some ways you can meet with them:

  • Create an online survey
  • Conduct phone interviews
  • In-person through the means of a social group

An important factor to keep in mind when choosing who you wish to engage with is starting with characteristics that apply to your personas. Not to mention, it will help you conduct your marketing research.

3 - Increase Engagement

A lot of research firms in marketing have groups of people that they can pull from whenever they need to perform a study. The fact of the matter is a lot of individual marketers are unable to afford that kind of luxury. However, that’s not exactly a terrible thing. All the time you’re going to spend recruiting people for the study may lead to having better participants.

Below is a brief recruiting guide to make things a little easier:

  • Bring up a list of people who have made a recent purchase
  • Have a list of those who made an active evaluation of your product, but haven’t made a purchase
  • Ask for participants via social media
  • Try to leverage your network
  • Make sure you have an incentive

4 - Ask Questions

One of the best ways to get everything out of your conversations is to prepare your questions in advance. Try creating a discussion guide for everything such as a social group, surveys, online and phone interviews. This will ensure that frequently asked questions are covered and you can use the extra time wisely.

It's worth mentioning that this should not be a script. All your discussions are better when they’re conversational and natural.

5 - Know Your Competition

Figuring out your potential competitors starts off your research of the secondary market. With that said, there's a lot more than just one company against the other. In some cases, a fraction of a company may compete with another company's service or products, despite the fact that this company puts more effort in a different area.

Even if you think you know your target audience, conducting market research can be an eye-opening experience. Consumers of today are more powerful than ever. They know what they want and usually aren't willing to settle for less. And why should they? With so many options out there, the world is their oyster.

Matt Mascarenas is a part of the redolive.com team and focuses on finding innovative ways of improving customer and brand relationships throughout the entire lifetime of a product. He helps develop strategies that businesses can implement and expand on.

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