Many freelancers and SMEs believe that doing market research isn’t something within their reach, and some simply just don’t think it’s worth it. However, in this competitive and changing society, market research is very important, since it helps us to know how our customers and competitors are evolving at all times.
If you’re looking for a complete market research analysis, then you’ll have to turn to a specialized market research company who will take care of the whole process for you. Although it is advised to seek professional help with market research, here are a few practical tips to help you do your own market research at a minimum cost, while obtaining results that will help you manage your business more effectively.
- Collect Information
We live in the Age of Information, so the first step of your market study should be to collect and take advantage of all the information already published about your sector. For this, we recommend the following actions:
So much of the information on the internet is free; locate articles and reports on what’s going on in your sector, such as statistics, data, censuses, etc. Visit the websites of associations that entrepreneurs in your sector are involved in or any official bodies related to your sector or community. Check out the national and regional statistical institutes and the Chambers of Commerce and Industry, which are main tools of SEO and SEM analysis.
Additionally, visit the websites of your competitors or companies with complete and well-designed websites that are similar to yours. By doing this, you can get a better understanding of who you’re up against, and you can even gain information about your own business strategy (products, prices, communication, offers, etc) and its relevance.
Professional SEO positioning tools (Moz, Semrush, Sistrix, etc) offer very interesting information regarding keyword analysis, among other things, so you can monitor how you and your competitors are ranking for keywords. A paid subscription for at least two or three months can certainly be worth it and is usually affordable.
Specialized print magazines publish information about associations, agencies, and consultants in your sector. A yearlong subscription of specialized print magazines relevant to your niche can be really helpful in addition to other resources.
If your business is already in operation, you have a multitude of information at your fingertips. Information that you already have about your company, such as accounting, sales and production reports, results of advertising campaigns, contracts and previous reports, etc. can be analyzed to see what’s working and what’s not.
When you have collected and analyzed enough information, you will be ready to make the first valuation of your market.
- Direct Observation
The second step of your market study is to observe what’s happening in the market. We recommend the following low-cost techniques that you can do on your own.
A great place to start is with your own customers. Observing your customers allows you to find out their socioeconomic characteristics, most demanded products, impulses, motivations, and so on, so you can be sure to tailor your marketing strategy to their preferences.
The same goes for your competitors’ customers. Pay attention to what their customers specifically like about their company and consider implementing similar strategies within your own company. Maybe even visit the competition yourself!
- Interviews And Surveys
The third step of your market research is to deepen the knowledge of your target customers and their behavior. This includes their demographic/socioeconomic characteristics, opinions on your products/services, degree of knowledge of your products/services, purchase intentions and most importantly, consumer behavior. It’s critical you find out who buys your product, how they buy/use it, how much they buy, where/when they buy it, and what motivates them to buy it.
The most effective way to get this information is by simply asking, and for this we recommend four techniques:
In-depth interviews with an industry expert or potential client will allow you to gather a considerable amount of information. Don’t forget to prepare a script beforehand that details all the aspects which you want to find out more about.
Get 5 to 8 potential clients together for a discussion group, in which you can present your idea or product to them and get their opinions. This technique is good for detecting motivations and reactions. Be sure to record their input so you don’t lose detail. Keep in mind that these interviews give you qualitative information but are not statistically representative, so the overall conclusions of your market study cannot exclusively be based on them.
Surveys tend to be a more reliable method but can be more inconvenient in terms of time, if you administer it yourself, or money, if you pay someone else to take care of it. Once again, take advantage of what’s on the internet; there are plenty of survey templates already available. A good benchmark is to do at least 40 surveys to make sure you get accurate results.
Additionally, internet surveys have led to a major revolution in the world of market research, as they come with a significant reduction in costs. They are a great tool for freelancers and SMEs.
- Investigate And Analyze Your Competition
The fourth step of the market study should be to deepen the analysis of your competition. Studying your competitors allows you to find out which companies are doing things well and which are not. It may drive you to implement new strategies, alter current strategies, or remove ineffective strategies in your own company. Additionally, it can help you identify identify business opportunities, keys to success, and market trends.
- Define Your Target Customer
If you have completed an effective market study, you will be able to generally define your customer base and divide them into related groups. Market segmentation is this process of dividing potential customers into groups, or segments, based on different characteristics. These segments are made up of customers with similar interests, needs, priorities, and so on.
You must choose target customers or segments that you want to specifically focus on in order to adapt your marketing actions to their characteristics and consumption behavior. Remember that the market is increasingly demanding specialization and a good way to stay on top of things to specialize in a particular type of customer.
After you have collected information, observed your market, conducted interviews and surveys, analyzed your competition, and defined your target customers, you will be much more apt to analyze your market. For more in depth analysis, be sure to contact a company that specializes in market research.