Before launching a new company or a new product or service, you should know a great deal about your market and what your market thinks about your product or service. Market intelligence is one of the key parts of your business plan, right? But, how do we conduct market research without spending money we don’t have? Here are some tips.
1. Learn from big companies.
Expensive research results are embedded in every successful marketing campaign run by big companies. Big companies can afford to spend millions researching their target markets’ preferences, price points, interests, etc. Let’s say you are creating an online business for Moms, check out what big companies that target Moms are doing in their marketing campaigns. If the most common promotional offer is a 20% discount, you can bet that quantitative research results showed that 20% discounts were the magic number – the discount that made significantly more Moms buy. Look at the benefits they advertise. The chances are very good that those benefits were the ones that played well in their research. If Mom-focussed magazines are all saying that the best color for accessories this year is orange, you can bet orange is well received among the Mom market.
2. Search the Library.
Libraries are trying to keep up! Ask a librarian for market research resources available at their library, and you will likely find all kinds of information that will help you. Think of librarians as a highly educated free resources!
3. Search the web.
For information about businesses, you can find an incredible array of resources online. I just got off the phone with a woman who has been very successful in sales and sales management and is thinking about creating a sales consulting firm. She found great resources online providing information about hundreds of businesses and her only problem is that it will take her ages to get through it all to prioritize her prospects. There are great online resources available with information about consumers, as well. The key is to find a source for your particular target market, depending on demographics and geography.
4. Conduct your own research.
You can affordably conduct online surveys . And face to face research only costs you time. Set up time to talk to people who are good representatives of your target market. Maybe friends and family can give you good contacts. A clipboard from an office supply store and a great, very short survey will work, too. Just stand at a busy intersection during lunch hour where your target market is going to walk by regularly. Targeting men in their twenties? How about handing out free granola bars or coupons for a burger joint to anyone who fits the market description if he will answer your survey questions?
5. Ask the experts.
Find out who are experts in your industry or experienced with your target market, and talk to them. Connect and ask for a meeting. Ask for mentorship, guidance, and wisdom. People don’t mind being asked for any of those things, and some will provide it!
6. Check Out Competition.
What are your competitors doing? Research this carefully. If they have been successful for a long time, you can learn from what they do. This doesn’t mean do what they do, because you have to be better. This does gives you a baseline to work from, however.
Finally, be sure to listen to your market carefully. Watch out that you don’t assume you know better than they do about what they want right now. Sometimes they may want your great idea in about five years, and they just aren’t ready. Listen well!
Best of luck!