Market research – that elusive, all-encompassing term describing efforts to collect and analyze information about customers, markets, and trends in order to make informed, strategic business decisions.
Sometimes confused with marketing research, in its simplest form market research answers basic, but incredibly important, questions to provide the precise information you need to mitigate the risk associated with important business decisions. But before you answer it is vital to begin by asking the right question.
It is easy to get lost in the never-ending information gathering that becomes the product of an unfocused market research project. Maybe you want to quantify the potential demand for a new product, or identify a new vertical for an existing product. Or maybe you want to better understand your customer.
Whatever your goal is, take time to formulate the question carefully, as this will save copious amounts of time sifting through useless information. Be specific: are you focusing on a particular geographic or demographic area? Are there key qualifications that will help you find the right market?
Keep in mind: you may not know the right question to ask initially, but tailor your research as these points become evident.
Once the scope of the project is established, here are 3 more points to guide your research:
1) When entering a new industry, start with the 10,000 foot view: understand total number of employees and companies, average spending and revenue, and industry leaders. Then quickly drill down to begin answering your question.
2) Verify, verify, verify! – find multiple reputable sources for key statistics. Good places to start: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Census Data, SEC Data, industry publications and associations.
3) Secondary research is a great place to start, but primary research is a MUST: sometimes you just have to beat the pavement and start talking to people. Start with coworkers, friends, and family, but remember the goal is to speak with real customers about real needs. Surveys are another great way to get feedback, although you need to understand your target prospect or customer intimately before surveying them.
What need does your company have that targeted, thorough market research could solve? Leave us a comment and let us know your thoughts.
By Peter Blute, Client Services Manager at OnTarget Partners, who helps marketing & sales executives develop solutions to drive new business opportunities. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (469) 200-4908.