Putting Market Research at the Heart of Your Business Strategy

Companies should conduct research on a continual basis to proactively adapt to the demands of the market

Market research ensures that your customers are happy with your products and services and identifies new opportunities for your business to grow. Products and services should evolve constantly with the needs of the market, but it is impossible to do this without a sound understanding of what your clients want.

Industry conferences are a great way to keep up to date with the most recent developments. For example, the director of SRK UK stated that they use these types of events to meet new customers, but also to see what new things are happening in the construction industry.

Combine multiple types of research to get the clearest picture of your market

There are a number of different types of market research and it is important that you include a good mix in your analysis to give you the most complete, well rounded view of your market. This includes:

  • Qualitative vs. quantitative
  • Primary vs. secondary

It is important that you approach your market research with an open mind and are willing to adapt your business to the results. If you are not willing to listen to the feedback of your potential clients and would rather misconstrue the results to suit your preconceived notions, it will only hurt your business and your chances of success in the long run. Apparent outliers in your results or erroneous information warrant further investigation, not complete dismissal.

Free tools from Google act as an excellent source of information for first time entrepreneurs

Secondary information has become far more valuable as near real time data has become available from a number of sources. Google’s keyword tool can instantly give you an idea of the popularity of specific key phrases and Facebook can tell you how many people have expressed an interest in a particular niche. In short, much to the dislike of the general public, whole companies have been built on the value of the data they hold on their members!

Conducting quantitative market research can help you forecast what your future sales might be. This is important for your business plan if you are hoping to attract investment.

So often entrepreneurs come unstuck when their projections are challenged by potential investors, and showing that you have conducted sufficiently in depth market research will help to ease their concerns.

Advances in technology have revolutionised the market research industry and have dramatically changed the way information is collected. Online surveys are increasingly favoured over other types of research, due to the ability to connect to a large number of people across geographic boundaries with relative ease.

Your ability to conduct market research effectively will evolve over time

Once your business is established and has a growing customer base, the ongoing process of market research becomes easier. Your customers will gladly tell you when they don’t like what you are doing, either directly by making a complaint, or indirectly by not renewing your service, or making a repeat purchase. As you experiment with new techniques, you will understand what works well with your target market and what doesn’t.

It is important to keep track of your analytics and see how this changes over time. For instance, does the response rate to a particular survey change when you vary the content or layout of the invite email?

It is important that you continue to approach market research from the perspective of a small business, rather than a market research company, or academic institution. This will allow you to be agile and dynamic. For example, it gives you the flexibility to try things outside the remit of a standard market research agency proposal and enables you to combine ad hoc elements of research with more structured research projects for the greatest impact.

This sustained focus on understanding the needs of your customers and your position of your products and services in the market place relative to your peers will ensure that your business continues to thrive.