Market research isn’t just for large corporations. If used effectively, it can be used by businesses of all sizes, across all industries. Successful businesses will regularly update their market research in order to maintain a competitive edge, and a clear view of the market and their audience. However, it’s really important to conduct effective research – not just research for the sake of it.
With the rise of big data, and more businesses using social media to inform their findings, market research has increased in popularity over the past few years. Technology overall has improved dramatically, making it much easier to reach more respondents, whilst also providing more intelligent programmes to analyse and present the data received.
Using market research for your business
There are more benefits to conducting market research than you might think. If the research is carried out correctly, you could end up understanding more about your perceived reputation, or learn how to guide your communications with customers, as well as uncover opportunities for future growth. You could also uncover future trends within your industry, allowing you to capitalise on this information to provide insight to your business, and an enhanced service for your customers.
It’s advisable to continually carry out market research to encourage self-assessment, and to stay in touch with potential and existing customers. Once you have rectified any issues, or made use of any opportunities, you could re-issue the research to see how your responses have changed. Research can become out-dated very quickly, so commissioning more research can keep the cycle going, and keep you informed.
Carrying out market research?
If you’re planning on conducting your own market research, there are some steps you can’t afford to miss. There are obviously several steps required in the full market research process, but here are three steps you really can’t miss out.
- Don’t skip primary data collection. Secondary data – research that’s already been collected by someone else, for a different purpose – can be out-dated, and may not be fully applicable to your research even it appears similar. Plus, if it’s old – the customers’ views could have changed since then, so it may not be 100% relevant. Conducting primary research – data you collect yourself – means you can define the type of research, and make it align with your need. Secondary data can be beneficial in your research stages, to shape the questions you ask in your primary data stage – but it shouldn’t be relied upon.
- Don’t neglect the planning phase. If you jump straight into your primary research you could actually end up wasting money. Problems are easier to fix at the start of your research – not once your research has been finalised. Take the time to plan effectively first, and you won’t need to spend more time rectifying any mistakes or missed opportunities. Alternatively, spending the time to assess your research can help you decide if you’ve picked the right path, or if a different approach would better provide the results you’re looking for.
- Make sure you present your findings. Whether it’s internally to staff, externally to your investors and customers – presenting your results can help visualise your findings. The presentation can be used to prove a point, show the effectiveness of a marketing campaign, or new product launch. It could also highlight areas for improvement within your business, or give you the opportunity to change your perception amongst your target market. There’s not much point in conducting a huge market research programme, if you don’t assess the results and present them at some point.
So, what now? Once you’ve conducted your market research (and you’ve shared it with your stakeholders and staff), you might want to complete these additional steps to take your research to the next level.
- Reputation management. If you’ve discovered that your audience views you differently to how you want to be perceived, it might be time to consider reputation management. Monitoring all media channels – including social media – can help you stay on top of developing stories, and avoid any potentially damaging press.
- SEO. Does your prospective audience know who you are? Market research may uncover that your clients don’t easily recall your business name, or objectives, so considering search engine optimisation (SEO) as part of your marketing activity could make you more visible in search results, and put you in front of potential customers.
- Content Marketing. Has your market research discovered some interesting statistics your industry might find interesting? Presenting this information in an easy to share format can increase your reputation as thought leaders, whilst also promote your business to potential customers.