So, you’re either starting out or already on your business journey. You realise that you need to do some market research. You can’t answer the questions about your target customer. But where do you start?
Simple answer is at the beginning!
What do you know about your target audience or customer? Sometimes you know a little more than you think.
- Where are they located?
- Is there a specific gender that you are targeting?
- What age group will avail of your product or service?
- Is there a range of ages interested in your product or service?
- What is the customer’s problem and what solution do you provide?
If you can’t answer some of these questions, then it is time to do some market research.
1. Start with Google
Search engines, like Google, can offer the answer to some of your market research related questions. Online or desk research can give you access to lots of free information. The Central Statistics Office in Ireland provide a wide variety of information – everything from how many businesses there are in your county to what is the population of a given area.
The beauty of the search engines is that you can literally ask them anything! Type in key words relevant to your business and see what pops up. Looking at competitors in your business area can often also help with market research. Their website or information about them online might show you what they do, how much they charge, what products or services they offer, etc.
2. Then move on to friends and family
Sometimes your close contacts and connections might be able to help. You could start by creating a short online survey. Tools like Survey Monkey can help to create a template with a few questions. See what trends come through in the answers.
However, the only caveat to be careful of with friends and family is that they often tell you what you want to hear. This isn’t necessarily helpful for you as you need honesty.
In Ireland we are great talkers! By talking to actual or potential customers, we can naturally bring in to conversation some of the questions that we need answers to.
I often give the example when I’m delivering marketing training of my grandmother. My grandparents ran a hardware shop for years. My grandmother ran the side of the business that had kitchen ware and giftware, etc. She would have ordered lots of her stock in advance, but she needed to test the market to see what would be in demand. I observed her for years carrying out free market research by simply engaging with her customers. She’d find out what they liked and what they didn’t like. She would gauge the reaction of why customers were buying certain products and what influenced their decision. She made her customers feel special by engaging with them. But cleverly, she also gained some valuable insights to direct her buying decisions for future stock.
3. Engage in more formal market research when you have to
Don’t be afraid of more formal market research approaches when the time comes. This might include engaging with a market research company to carry out research on your behalf.
Or it might be a matter of carrying out more formal “interview” style approaches to gain the information you need. Gatherings of focus groups might also be something to keep in mind. These are best moderated by somebody with experience of focus groups. They ensure that there is equal share of voice, that all inputs were recorded, etc.
In conclusion, carrying out market research shouldn’t be something that is done once. I believe that for businesses to truly keep in touch with their customer’s needs, they need to keep engaging. Keep asking questions – online or offline.
If you don’t carry out any market research, how do you know you’re targeting the right customer? For a bespoke marketing strategy meeting, book in for your 15 minute complimentary consultation with Jill Lush.