Whether starting a new venture or building a business, sound research on your markets and consumers is essential. But, it can also be costly. Because of this, many small businesses and budding start-ups tend to give lesser priority to information gathering for the sake of building strategy and customizing products/services. Sometimes worse, many take a do-it-yourself approach that could spell disaster for a small business. Here are some tips to make your DIY market research project and your business successful.
If you are an experienced market researcher, add your thoughts in the comment section to help newbies be successful in this area of their business.
Understand What It Is You Are Researching
The biggest failures in market research tend to be centered on how useful the information is once it’s obtained. Typically, this is because the research question was not clearly or properly defined at the onset. Before starting a project, determine what it is you are truly trying to understand. Do this by starting with the end result in mind. What business problem would you like solved? In what way do you intend to use the information? Who will you need to share the information with? Once you have these basic questions answered, develop a research question that fits the intended use for the results you want to obtain.
Pick the Right Method
Too often businesses use the wrong methods to solve the right problems, which still leads to useless information. If you are trying to size a market, for example, it would serve you well to utilize numeric data to calculate the right number. If it is numeric data you are seeking, then it would be wise to survey a large quantity of potential consumers to understand how big that market it is. If you do not have the financial resources for this, then it may be possible for you to purchase an off-the-shelf study or use the internet to search for what you need. What is not wise is thinking that because you do not have a large budget that you can scale down your research and substitute without also thinking that 1. there are trade-offs, in terms of how useful the information is and 2. there is a huge risk. You may not obtain the right information at all. The important thing to remember here is that you must match your research need with the right methods for the best results.
Understand the Art of Interpreting Data
When you finally obtain the data from your project pay careful attention to how you interpret the results. Too often I have seen professionals attach numbers to a handful of direct interviews or make erroneous implications from survey data. Or, I’ve seen less than scientific generalizations made in the absence of basic statistical methods/tests. If interpreting data from research is not your forte, then enlist the help of someone trained and experienced to help. It is better to make sound decisions with the data you have than to reach for a nugget of information that is not there.
Basic market research is necessary but if you are new to it, then paying attention to these three tips can help you on the road to more useful results. For those experienced researchers, what else would you add here to help a small business or startup be successful?
(April Clarke is the Chief Marketing Strategist for The Encompass Clarity blog, which provides practical marketing advice for its readers and reports and analyzes consumer trends . Visit http://www.encompassclarity.com for information about Encompass Clarity, Inc. or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.)