A business can spend a lot of money on market research, but there are ways for startups and small businesses to do it inexpensively. And it’s a must, no matter the amount put towards it.
Understanding your client base is essential to assuring that there is enough demand to make your business worthwhile. Market research will also uncover ways to make your venture more relevant. You can change your model based on what the market is looking for.
Plus, there are many avenues available to you from the comfort of your home. The first step is to gather information from resources such as these:
- Census data
- Google search
- Online/hard copy business publications (The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Entrepreneur Magazine, and others)
- Financial data on relevant public companies
Once you’ve established that there is demand for which you can supply, it’s time to delve deeper to the consumer level. Have very clear ideas of what information you’re trying to get when you do your consumer interviews. Create yes/no or multiple choice for the majority of your questions but have an option for at least one open-ended feedback opportunity. Use some or all of the following methods to get your business specific research from your target demographic area.
- Focus groups
- Street interviews
- Online bulletin boards
- E-mail blast
- Direct mail survey
- Telephone survey
If you have a university in the area, see if you can take advantage of their marketing department. Talk to the professors to see if their students can get some real-life experience by doing some market research on your behalf.
Make sure you know your competition. Visit their store (if applicable), see their online presence and monitor what people are saying about them on social media. Find what they do well and what could use tweaking and base your model around that.
Above all, pay close attention to any negative feedback from your market research. You don’t want to focus only on things you want to hear. Critical feedback will go a long way in allowing you to make adjustments early on and maximize your chances of success.