Updated: Dec 29, 2019
Do you have a business or business idea? Are you wondering how to effectively communicate what your business is about to the world?
Do you want to know what businesses like yours are doing to get clients? Market research is the answer.
Market research can happen at any stage of your business but should most certainly take place before you start your business or run a marketing campaign. It can provide the evidence you need for sound business decision making.
Don't run your business on assumptions. Doing so is a waste of time and money.
Stop The Guesswork
Market research allows you to make marketing decisions based on evidence and not gut feelings confidently. It can ease marketing angst.
Market research will also give you a better understanding of who your customers are, how they feel, what they value, and how to solve their problems.
These are key points to understand before marketing to your audience.
As for your competition, look for comparators, or those you admire, to see what marketing efforts are working best for them.
How are they serving their clients well so that you can serve your clients better.
Use comparators to refine your marketing strategies and business model.
Over time, your unique approach and processes are what will make you stand apart from other businesses in your industry.
Market research may even reveal a whitespace opportunity or something other businesses in your industry are not doing that you can do.
Primary Data and Secondary Data
Primary data is information you gather directly from your current or potential clients. Collect primary data from the use of surveys, one-on-one interviews, or focus groups.
Secondary data is information that already exists like the content you find in trade publications or at the public library.
You can also obtain secondary data from commercial sources. Dun & Bradstreet or even educational institutions are excellent sources for information.
Getting information from these sources usually involves the cost of a subscription or association fee.
I urge you to find a balance between obtaining primary data and secondary data. Secondary data may be easy to come by, but there's nothing like learning about your ideal client by directly asking them questions.
In my experience, it is also ideal to have a balance between qualitative research and quantitative research.
Qualitative and Quantitative Data
Qualitative data is information gathered that you cannot measure.
For example, an event planner could ask an event attendee to explain how they feel after a presentation.
To this question, the event planner will receive various answers that will only give the event planner an understanding of how each attendee felt and possibly a common theme.
Qualitative data can also be gathered from observations.
Did the question about feelings make the room quiet? Did the event attendees seem uncomfortable, anxious, or happy? Did anyone look emotional while answering the question?
Quantitative data quantifies or puts numbers to information.
Numbers can then be used for statistical analysis or mathematical calculations. Quantitative data answers how many, how much, or how often.
For example, instead of saying there are green, blue, and yellow papers on the table, you quantify this information by saying there are 3 green, 7 blue, and 2 yellow pieces of paper on the table.
With this information, we now know there are 12 pieces of paper on the table. Of those pieces of paper, 25% were green, about 60% were blue, and about 15% were yellow.
See how numbers found their way into quantitative data?
Quantitative data can be gathered from surveys. Open-ended questions, or questions in which people can write down whatever they want.
But, closed-end, or questions that can be answered using answer choices, are ideal for collecting quantitative data. Think multiple choice quizzes.
However, depending on the logic behind the questions you want to ask, surveys can be complicated or straightforward.
My best advice is to keep it simple, don't bias questions, and don't ask more than one question at the same time.
Use Research To Solve Problems
Keep in mind that the purpose of conducting research is to solve your business or marketing problem.
You are to use what you've learned to improve your business or marketing efforts as there's always room for improvement.
Questions for you...
What would like to learn about marketing research?
If you've used marketing research, what type of marketing or business problem were you using it to solve?