How to do market research on the cheap
By Ella Wilson
I work with lots of small business owners that have literally no market research when they come to us. Some can’t even tell me who their target market is. And this is a shame, because they’re taking a big risk by throwing money at an idea they haven’t done adequate research on.
Before you plunk down thousands of dollars to produce a new product, start a business, or update your marketing plan, you need market research to see if your plan has teeth. If you’re a small business without a lot of cash to spare, you’re in luck. We’re here to tell you how to do market research on the cheap.
Why Market Research is Important
Reality is often way different from the ideas in your head. Even big brands find this out the hard way (remember Crystal Pepsi?). Takeaway lesson: just because you think something is a good idea doesn’t mean your customers will agree.
As a small business, you have to be extra careful when investing money toward new ideas, because you don’t have the capital it takes to bail out of a disaster like New Coke or Edsel. One bad product can send your business to the scrapyard.
How to do Market Research Using Your Website
If you’ve already got a website, use it! It’s simple enough to add a form that asks for feedback from your customers on a specific issue. To increase the number of responses you get, incentivize people with a coupon or discount (which will drum up more business, too – a win-win)!
Survey Your Current Customers
The best place to figure out what your customers want is (drumroll, please) your customers! If you’re considering launching a new product or service that’s related to the products and services you currently offer (and it probably is), make sure you run it by your current customers first.
One super easy way to do this is to send out automated surveys to your current customers. Infusionsoft can send out surveys whenever you wish (like when you’re considering launching a new product) or be set up to always send out surveys at a certain point in your sales cycle.
Figure Out Your Target Market
Before you launch a new business, product or service, you need to figure out if you have a market for it. Let’s say you want to open a business that sells high-end baby food. Some characteristics of a customer that might buy high-end baby food are:
- They’re probably female
- They probably have a higher-than average household income for your area
- They have a baby (LOL)
- They are probably college educated
- They are probably between the ages of 28-40 (younger than that might not have as much disposable income, and women older than that are not having a lot of babies)
If you have an aversion to stereotyping, this part is probably going to sting a little bit. But that’s just part of the game at this point. Unless you have a way of asking everyone in the world if they would buy high-end baby food, you’re going to have to make some educated guesses first.
Check Out Government Websites
The U.S. Census Bureau, The Department of Labor, and other government entities have all kinds of accurate, up-to-date information that you can use for your market research – for FREE. Their websites are loaded down with stats and facts that can help you find out how many people that fit your target market are in your sales area. It can be time-consuming to sort through, but you’re not going to find any better free information anywhere.
Call Your Local Business School
Business schools are usually hungry to provide their students with real-world examples to learn from. For little to no money, you can have a team of students putting their all into your market research. The results you get probably won’t be as good as what you’d receive from a professional firm, but you’d be surprised. Driven, honor-roll students are very likely to wow you with the quality of work they produce.
Contact Your Local Chamber of Commerce or Small Business Association
Both of these are in the business of business, and they’ll have a wealth of information about the demographics in your area. From a list of businesses that are your competition to stats and facts about your area to advice and industry forecasts, your local Chamber of Commerce and Small Business Association are two resources not to be missed.
We’ll help you make your market research work for you!
GetUWired will help you make your market research into profits! Give us a call today at 877-236-9094 or visit us online at www.GetUWired.com.