“I want to waste my money on a marketing strategy that doesn’t reach my target audience!” said no one ever. No one does it on purpose, yet it happens all too often. So, are you trying to figure out how to do market research for your small business?
Conducting market research is a very important step for any good marketing strategy (vs marketing plan) that sometimes gets skipped. When that happens, all your time, hard work, and money can go right down the drain.
BEFORE creating and launching your online marketing campaign, you MUST do market research. In this article we’ll review how to conduct market research and the five key areas of market research:
- Brand research
- Competitor research
- Customer segmentation research
- Product development
- Usability testing
Why market research is important.
Here we share with you the basics of a good marketing plan and even give you some proven tips on how to write it.
Market research is the first step.
It is the basic building block to the “how, when, and where” you need your brand to be so you can reach your ideal audience, expand your brand, and increase your sales.
Market research is all about understanding your customer base—their needs and desires, their pain points and preferences. When you understand your target audience, you can market your product or service more effectively.
Without it, it is like throwing darts at a dart board while blindfolded. You may just get lucky enough to hit the board from time to time. But you will waste a lot of time and effort hitting outside the board and marring up the paneling.
Market research is critical to the success of your content marketing strategy because it helps businesses identify their target audience and understand their needs, preferences, and pain points which better informs the development of content topics that are relevant and valuable, including the messaging used, by understanding the language and terminology that resonates with their target audience
What is market research?
Market research involves gathering data to learn more about your target demographics and ideal audience as well as your competition, so you can market your product more effectively.
This research provides you with the data points you need to make your decisions to move forward with your marketing strategies.
You might be wondering how to gather market research data for free. Good news, there are a lot of trial subscriptions that market research data platforms offer that are either free or discounted. And, we will share those options with you in this article.
But remember, the level of market research that you can do under a trial subscription or temporary subscription will provide you with the quality data that you need to ensure you aren’t wasting valuable time and dollars marketing or advertising to the wrong audience or on the wrong medium which in turn will save you much more than what a trial subscription might cost!
How to do market research.
There are 5 main areas of market research.
1. Brand research
Starting with a deep look into your brand, here you investigate the level of brand awareness among your target audience. Surveys or focus groups are the best ways to gather the data you will need. Here are some sample questions you can ask:
- When thinking about [TOPIC], which [TOPIC] brand comes to mind first?
- Which other [TOPIC] brands are you aware of?
- Which of the following [TOPIC] brands do you know, even if it is only by name
- How familiar are you with each of these brands as [TOPIC] providers?
- Which brands would you consider when buying a [TOPIC]?
- Which of these [BRANDS] do you most prefer?
- Which of these [BRANDS] do you currently use for [TOPIC]?
2. Competitor research.
So, who else is out there looking to attract your ideal audience? Which brands were the most popular answer to the above survey questions?
What are they doing right and what are they doing wrong? Run a competitor analysis and review your competition’s marketing campaigns, brand reputation, sales volume, and other key data points to help you learn their strengths and weaknesses.
Tip: Check out their reviews to see how they’re winning over customers (or losing them).
3. Customer segmentation research.
Here you group your target audience based on their common attributes. This segmentation is done by dividing them into one of up to 7 different groups.
- Demographic – Based on things like their age, stage of life, gender, and religion.
- Geographic – Grouping by country, state, city, and town.
- Behavioral – Segmented by behaviors including things like tendencies, frequent actions, feature or product use, and habits.
- Psychographic – Based on personality, attitude, values, and interests.
- Technographic – Grouped by the ways in which they use technology, e.g., mobile use, desktop use, apps, and software.
- Needs-based – Segmented by things like product or service must-haves and needs of specific customer groups.
- Value-based – Based on the economic value of specific customer groups for the business.
Buyer personas can be a huge help in customer segmentation. Once broken into segments, it is easier to look deeper and discover things like their motivations, values, attitudes, and goals.
When you understand exactly what makes your ideal audience tick, it is much easier to provide them with relevant information about your product or service. You can use this data to segment email lists and tag contacts to deliver more personalized content to your ideal customer’s email inbox. It enhances your ability to communicate your service’s unique benefits to solve their specific problems.
Product development is an ongoing process. As part of market research, it is important to be aware of how the product or feature that you’re working on is progressing.
If your sales are dipping, it could mean that your customers’ needs have shifted. This may mean you may need to refine your product by adding new features to be more useful or convenient.
5. Usability testing
Like product development research, this step is also focused on products. This is a look at how consumers use your product. Is your product easy to use? How much do users enjoy using it? What are the problems they encounter?
This gives you a bird’s eye view of your product’s pros, cons, and opportunities for improvement.
Record your market research data.
Market research is important. It is the foundation of every successful marketing strategy.
Whatever you do, don’t skip it. And as you conduct your market research, don’t forget to record your findings! You will need to use this data as you prepare the other marketing plan components that will make up your digital marketing strategy.
We get it, marketing is probably not your passion. Your passion is running your business, and no doubt—you’re really good at it.
Well, lucky for you, marketing IS our passion—and we’re really good at it. So good in fact, that we have made it our business and have helped hundreds of small business owners, just like you, to build a winning marketing strategy.