Monday, July 27, 2009

Market Research On A Tight Budget

Market Research is the study of groups of people that you would like to sell your products or services to. Spending time to do Market Research minimizes risk and often improves your chances of success. Researching your target market can provide you with sound and objective data. The problem is that market research can be extremely expensive, so how can you do the research if you are on a tight budget? Low-cost market research is not impossible, let me show you how.

First off lets consider the things we need to look for when conducting our market research. Your target market should have at least four common characteristics. They are:
1. My target market has a particular need.
2. My target market has enough money to purchase my products or services.
3. My target market has decision making power.
4. My target market has access to my products and services.

In order to determine these characteristics you must spend time researching and asking yourself the following questions:
- My customers have a particular need. What is that need?
- My customers have enough money to buy what I am selling. Who needs and can afford what you are offering?
- My customers have decision making power. Who has the authority to say yes to what I'm offering?
- My customers have access to my products and services. How accessible are my products or services to my target market?

Where Should You Begin Your Market Research?

First Resource: Secondary Research
The best place to start looking for secondary research is online. Visit association web sites that are aligned with your industry. If you are in the consumer industry visit the government agencies because you will find all kinds of consumer information on their sites. A great resource that you won't want to miss is the U.S. Census Bureau. Keep in mind that secondary research is not done for you, so some of the information and answer may not be applicable to you. Whoever it was that commissioned the study had their own questions that they wanted to get answered. The information you will find might be in the ballpark, but not on first base.

Second Resource: Your Customers
Put together a questionnaire and have your employees ask prospects, customers, vendors, and suppliers to complete it. A couple of questions you could ask are:
- Do you like our products or services?
- What are we doing right?
- What could we improve?

This method of research also works very well when visiting trade shows. Take a walk around the hall and spend time listening to people's conversations and ask questions. Spending time doing this helps you gain insight to what your competitors are doing.

You can also conduct:
- Open-ended interviews with your customers.
- Surveys
- Focus Groups

Third Resource: Comparable Markets
Look for other comparable markets and share the expense of a study. Remember you want to do this with comparable markets, but not competitors. For example if you are a copywriter, find a company that does print advertising. Once you find someone sit down and decide what information would be beneficial to the both of you and hire someone to do the study.
Source: About Marketing.
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