Have you been struggling to get your small business off the ground? If so, you’re not alone.
To make your product or service stand out, you need to understand your target market and develop a successful marketing strategy.
The best way to do this is through market research.
It may seem complex and intimidating, but don’t worry–it doesn’t have to be. With my help, you’ll be an expert on how to do market research in no time!
Hi! My name is AJ. I recently sold my business, making a multi-million dollar exit. I am here to share the strategies and secrets of market research that I used to succeed over the last decade.
Whether you’re launching a new product or expanding into a new market, I will guide you through my top market research tips & strategies and help you get the data to drive your business forward.
Ready to get started? Let’s dive in!
What is Market Research?
Market research collects data to understand your target audience’s preferences, behaviors, and needs.
Market research will help you create a marketing strategy that connects with potential customers and increases sales.
Think of it like this: You need to know who your target customer is and what they need to develop a product or service that meets their needs.
When you do market research, you gather information about your target audience and competitors.
This data helps you make informed decisions when planning marketing strategies and developing better products or services. It also allows you to identify new growth opportunities.
Whether you’re a startup or an established business, market research is essential for success. I know it was for my business!
Market Research Benefits
The benefits of conducting market research are numerous.
Let’s look at a few of the key benefits I thought were most beneficial when I was getting started.
Market Research Strengthens Your Market Position
Market research gives you access to valuable data that can help you understand your target audience and position your business better.
You can use this information to create a competitive advantage and make sure you’re in the best possible position to succeed.
It also helps you identify potential opportunities for growth.
For example, if you discover a specific feature or service your competitors don’t offer, you can use this to your advantage.
Market research can also help you pivot your product or service to serve your target audience better.
Let’s say you are in the dog food business and discover a need for organic dog food. You can create an offering to meet this demand and gain a competitive edge.
Moreover, if you discover that ONLY German Shepherd owners are looking for a specific type of organic dog food, you can make a niche offering that stands out.
Market Research Reduces Risk
As an entrepreneur, I know that risk is inevitable. But with market research, you can reduce the risks of launching a new product or service by understanding what your target customers want and need.
You’ll be able to make smarter decisions and create products or services more likely to succeed in the market.
Market research allows you to test and refine your ideas before launching them, saving you time and money in the long run.
If you want to create a type of dog food that is unique and different, you can use market research to confirm that there’s a need in the market before investing in the product’s development and distribution.
Market Research Uncovers Business Threats
Market research can also help you identify potential threats to your business.
For example, you may uncover a competitor that has developed a similar product or service that could put your business at risk.
This knowledge can help you develop strategies to protect your business and maintain a competitive edge.
By understanding the competitive landscape, you’ll be better prepared to face any challenges that come your way.
Example: What if another dog food company creates a new product similar to yours but with a better price point? You can use market research to identify this threat and adjust your pricing or marketing strategy accordingly.
Market Research Helps Discover Your Competitor’s Strengths/Weaknesses
Market research can also provide valuable insights into competitors’ strengths and weaknesses.
Understanding these will help you develop strategies that give you an edge over your competition.
You can use this information to do the following:
- Create better products or services
- Target the right customers
- Adjust your pricing strategy
- Refine your marketing campaigns
- Most importantly, stay ahead of the competition.
The more you know about your competitors, the better prepared you’ll be to succeed in the business world.
Suppose you find out that one of your dog food competitors has a better distribution network. You can use this knowledge to ensure your product reaches customers faster than theirs.
While building my last business, we used to continuously spy on our competitor’s SEO metrics to stay ahead of their game and tweak our SEO strategies.
Market Research Helps Facilitate Strategic Planning
Strategic planning is an essential part of any successful business.
Market research will help you develop strategies based on data and insight rather than guesswork.
You’ll be able to make informed decisions and create plans tailored to your target audience’s needs, including marketing campaigns that are more likely to succeed.
By understanding the market, you’ll be better prepared to capitalize on opportunities and avoid potential pitfalls.
Market Research Shows Emerging Trends
It’s hard to know what’s coming next, but market research can help.
By watching these trends, you can stay ahead of your competitors and take advantage of new opportunities before anyone else does.
Example: You might discover a new dog owner trend, such as the desire for pescatarian dog food, is emerging. You can use this information to create a product line that meets this demand.
As I like to say, if you stay in the know, you stay competitive!
Market Research Shows You Customer Needs/Demands
Finally, market research lets you understand your customer’s needs and demands.
By understanding what your target customers want, you can create products and services that meet their needs and ensure they connect with your messaging.
You also get insight into the customer journey to create marketing campaigns that effectively reach the right people.
Conducting market research might help you discover that dog owners need convenience when feeding their dogs. You can create a product that meets this need, such as pre-portioned dog food containers or subscription boxes.
Or they need more nutritional information about dog food. You can then provide this information in your product packaging or website and use it to create targeted marketing campaigns that will appeal to dog owners.
Primary Vs. Secondary Market Research
There are two main types of market research. Both are important for understanding the market and gathering valuable insights.
Let’s take a look at the differences between primary and secondary research.
What is Primary Market Research?
Primary research involves collecting information directly from potential customers.
This type of research gives you an insight into how your target market thinks and feels about your product or service.
It also helps you uncover needs and desires that are not otherwise visible. It’s a great way to look inside your customer’s minds.
Primary Market Research Examples
Primary research includes the following research methods:
- Surveys – You can use surveys to ask people for their opinions about your product or service. People are more likely, to be honest, and provide more detailed answers on surveys than in other types of research.
- Focus Groups – Focus groups are people who come together to discuss a particular topic or product. This is good for getting feedback on ideas, products, or services.
- Interviews – Interviews are one-on-one conversations with potential customers. They can be precious for understanding customer needs and opinions in-depth.
- Online Communities – Online communities are where people can connect and share ideas. You should join online communities related to your product or service and get a better understanding of customers’ wants, needs, and desires.
What is Secondary Market Research?
Secondary market research is collecting data already collected by someone else.
The advantage of secondary research is that it saves time and money since the data has already been collected.
It’s also good for getting an overall understanding of a specific market or industry.
Secondary Market Research Examples
Secondary research includes the following market research techniques:
- Industry Reports – Industry reports provide an in-depth look at an industry’s performance. They can give you a better understanding of the overall market and competition.
- Demographic Data – Demographic data gives you insight into your target audience, such as gender, age, location, etc.
- Competitor Analysis – Competitor analysis involves researching your competitors and understanding what they are doing. This can help you identify areas to improve your product or service.
- Public Opinion Polls – Public opinion polls measure people’s opinions on different topics, such as politics or specific products. They can give you an idea of how the public feels about the industry or your product.
- Market Analysis – Market analysis looks at trends in a particular market, such as changes in pricing and demand. This can help you identify opportunities for growth and areas of improvement.
- Social Media Analysis – To analyze social media, you must look at different platforms’ trends and monitor conversations about your product or service. This can help you understand customer sentiment and the general public’s perception of your company.
Types of Market Research
You can use various market research methods to gather data on the market and your target audience.
Depending on your business and goals, some methods may work better.
Choosing the right type of market research that will give you the insights you need is essential.
Here are a few of the most popular types of market research.
Primary Research (Discussed Above)
As previously discussed, primary research involves collecting data directly from potential customers. This is a great way to get qualitative insights into the market and your target audience.
This type of research includes the following:
- Focus Groups
- Online Communities
- Social Media Analysis
Secondary Research (Discussed Above)
Again, secondary research involves collecting data from sources already collected by someone else.
This is a great way to get quantitative insights into the market and your target audience.
Secondary research includes:
- Industry Reports
- Demographic Data
- Competitor Analysis
- Public Opinion Polls
- Market Analysis
Qualitative research is a type of primary research that focuses on gathering detailed, in-depth information about the market and target audience.
This type of research typically involves interviews and focus groups to get an insider look into how people think and feel about a particular product or service.
Qualitative data is useful for gaining an understanding of customer needs and motivations.
Quantitative research is a type of secondary research that focuses on gathering numerical data about the market and target audience.
This type of research typically involves:
- Public Opinion Polls
This is to get an overall understanding of the market.
Quantitative data can help you understand what people are looking for in a product or service and identify areas of opportunity.
Brand research is a type of primary research that focuses on measuring the effectiveness and impact of your brand.
This type of research is used to understand how people feel about your brand. It typically involves the following:
- Focus Groups
- Online Communities
Brand research can help you identify areas to improve your brand image and messaging. How do people feel about your colors & logo? How do people feel about your messaging? Can someone tell what you do at a glance?
Customer research is a type of primary research that focuses on gathering customer insight. This has always been one of my favorite types of primary research.
This type of research typically involves surveys and interviews to understand customer needs and preferences.
The goal of customer research is to identify areas for improvement and create solutions that meet customer needs.
Pro Tip: Collect customer data the right way through a customer discovery questionnaire. Don’t ask: Do you like this? Ask: how do you feel about this? Don’t ask: would you use this? Ask: How would/do you use this?
Product testing is a type of research that focuses on testing the usability and functionality of a product or service.
This type of research typically helps you understand how customers interact with your product by doing the following: involves
- User Testing
- Focus Groups
Product testing can help you identify areas where you can improve your product’s design and user experience.
For instance, if you made a new type of organic dog food, you would want to test how a focus group of pet owners receives the dog food.
Competitor research is a type of secondary research that focuses on researching your competitors.
This type of research typically involves analyzing their products, services, and website to understand what they are doing.
Competitor research can help you identify opportunities for growth and areas where you can improve your product or service.
Competitor research is typically the least costly form of research. However, don’t be afraid to get creative. Competitor research could also involve buying a competitor’s product, calling your competitor to test their services, etc.
Ways to Get Market Research Data
There are many ways to get market research data.
You can hire market research companies, buy data from a third-party provider, or conduct your own primary and secondary research.
You want qualitative and quantitative data to get a complete market picture.
Choosing an effective market research strategy that will give you the insights you need is important.
Face-to-face interviews are a great way to get qualitative data from potential customers.
This type of research typically involves asking people questions about their experiences and opinions on a product or service.
Face-to-face interviews can be in-person or online, depending on your budget and resources.
Focus groups are a great way to get insights from potential customers.
Typically, focus groups involve a group of people discussing their opinions on a product or service. The data gathered is then used to identify areas of improvement.
When done correctly, focus groups can provide valuable insights into the market and customer needs.
Phone research is a great way to get qualitative and quantitative feedback from potential customers.
This type of research typically involves calling people to ask them questions about their experiences and opinions on a product or service.
Phone surveys are effective for gathering data quickly and efficiently.
Customer surveys are a great way to get feedback from potential customers.
This type of research helps you understand customer needs and preferences. If you are launching a new product or service, customer surveys can help you understand how it will be received.
Surveys can be used to gather data about customer experiences and opinions on a product or service. Typically, if customer surveys are anonymous, they are answered more honestly.
Online Market Research
Online market research is a great way to get quantitative data from potential customers.
This type of research typically involves creating an online survey and sending it out to your target market.
Online surveys are effective for gathering data quickly and efficiently.
You can also use online market research tools to analyze competitor websites and social media presence.
How to Do Market Research Step by Step
Do you want to know how to do market research for your small business?
Here are the steps I took when researching for my own business.
Step 1: Create Market Research Goals
The first step in market research is to set clear goals.
You want to measure the success of your research, so make sure you identify what information you’re looking for and how it will help you reach your business objectives.
If you don’t have clear goals, it will be difficult to measure the success of your research (trust me, I’ve been there).
Step 2: Define Your Buyer Personas
The next step is to define your buyer personas.
A buyer persona is a detailed description of who you think your ideal customer is.
You want to create a detailed profile that includes the following:
- Income Level
- Other Demographic Information
This information will help you target the right people when conducting your research.
Step 3: Identify Persona Groups to Engage
Once you’ve created your buyer personas, you must identify the best groups to engage.
This could include potential customers, current customers, industry experts, and other stakeholders.
You want to make sure that you get a variety of perspectives from different types of people to get an accurate picture of the market.
Step 4: Prepare Research Questions for Your Participants
Now that you’ve identified the groups to engage, it’s time to prepare your research questions.
These should be open-ended questions designed to stimulate discussion and get feedback from your participants.
Make sure that each question is specific and relevant to your topic.
Going back to our previous example of selling dog food, your research questions might include the following:
- What do you look for in a dog food brand?
- How often do you purchase dog food?
- What factors influence your decision when buying dog food?
- Are there any other pet care products you would like to see from us?
- Would you consider purchasing a subscription service for your pet’s food?
- Has your dog told you what they would like done differently to their food? (Just kidding!)
These questions will help you get the information you need to understand your market and create products that meet customer needs.
Step 5: Decide How You’d Like to Get the Data (See Types of Research Above)
Now that you’ve drafted your research questions, it’s time to decide how to get the data.
Depending on your budget and resources, you can choose from the various market research methods we discussed above.
Figuring out which method best suits your business will help you get the most out of your research.
Step 6: Summarize Your Findings
Once you have collected all your research data, it’s time to summarize the findings.
This is an essential step because it allows you to identify patterns and trends in the data.
You want to be able to draw conclusions from the data so that you can make informed decisions about your business.
Once you have a clear market picture, you can create products and services that meet customer needs.
Market Research Examples
Here are a few of my favorite market research examples.
We created customer surveys to gain insight into customer experiences and opinions.
We asked our clients questions about their satisfaction with our services, including what they liked and didn’t like and what could be improved.
By using the data from the survey, we were able to identify areas of improvement that met the needs of our customers.
We did this every six months or so to make sure we were on track!
Finally, we used online market research tools to analyze competitor websites. Specifically, we used Ahrefs to uncover our competitor’s SEO targets and conduct a content gap analysis.
This allowed us to keep up with trends in the industry and stay ahead of the competition.
We could make decisions that kept our business competitive in the market by staying informed. This market research proved invaluable when it came time to launch new services.
Marketing Research Wrap-Up!
Market research is vital because it helps you understand your target market and create products and services that meet customer needs.
By conducting market research, you can get valuable data to inform your business decisions and ensure success.
Remember, the key is to define clear goals, identify your buyer personas, prepare relevant research questions, choose the right research method for your budget and resources, analyze the results, and make informed decisions for your business.
Time to do your own market research! Let us know how it goes in the comments below. Good luck!
FAQs about topic
The four ways to do market research are focus groups, customer surveys, online market research tools, and competitive analysis.
Yes, you can do market research on your own. Defining clear goals, identifying buyer personas, preparing relevant research questions, choosing the proper method for your budget and resources, analyzing the results, and making informed decisions is essential.
The first step in market research is to set clear goals. You want to measure the success of your research, so make sure you identify what information you’re looking for and how it will help you reach your business objectives.
Before starting a business, you should conduct market research. You can use customer surveys, focus groups, online market research tools, and competitive analysis to gain insight into the market. This data will help you create products and services that meet customer needs.
Not all the time, depending on the method you choose. Techniques such as customer surveys, online market research tools, and competitive analysis can be done for free or cheaply. Focus groups usually require more money, but they provide valuable insight into customers’ opinions.