Market research is the collection and analysis of information regarding consumers (potential customers), competitors (same business type), and the effectiveness of marketing programs (i.e. direct mail marketing, newsletters, signage, etcetera). It’s an act of action before leaping into a business, and an educated move that determines the feasibility of a new business.
Through market research small businesses and corporations alike:
· Test interest in new services and products
· Improve customer service
· Develop competitive strategies
Both startup businesses and established businesses need to define, evaluate, and plan a course to pursue their market. The end result of market research is a business that is more responsive to customers` needs and increase profits.
As your business develops, market research needs to be an ongoing part of your business.
Anyone who is familiar with writing a business plan knows how unpredictable the market can be. Another reason why market research needs to be integrated.
Three Essential Areas
Market research is time consuming. Don’t let anyone fool you! And if you own a small business you’ll find time an issue. But don’t give up. Even the simple things you do like talking to a customer about what he or she wants, or chatting with a supplier is conducting market research.
Gather information from these three essential areas.
· Information from and about your customers
· Feedback on the likes and dislikes of your customers
· What services or products did the consumers like best
· Help you determine what works and what hasn’t worked
· Give you ideas for improving
· Provide insight into how to increase your market
· Political forces
All of this information shapes the way we do business. Keeping it close on hand allows you to stay abreast of and respond to particular trends or events that influence your small business.
Secondary Research Sources
Secondary research sources are easily obtainable. This is information that’s been collected by someone else just lying around for you to benefit from.
· Telephone books
· Government publications
This form of secondary research information is accessible at the library or by researching the Internet. It’s the primary source you’re really after. Obtaining firsthand information from your customer or competition is current; thereby, making it the most valuable means of market research.
Market research doesn’t take a rocket scientist. Most of us do it everyday without realizing it. As a business owner, you should educate yourself in the market research tools available to you. What you learn from a little research could save your business.