Think market research isn’t sexy? I understand. It’s way more interesting to focus on a new product launch or to get excited about your upcoming social media marketing campaign. But whether you are starting a new venture or looking to grow your existing business, the truth is, market research will provide you with a wealth of valuable information. It will save you time, energy and money in the long run. Not convinced? Here are six business-critical questions that market research will help you answer.
Does anyone care about the service I want to launch?
“So often people are working hard at the wrong thing. Working on the right things is probably more important than working hard.”Caterina Fake, Founder of Flickr.com
Market research can help you evaluate the demand for a new service before investing time and money into development and promotion. Through research, you will gauge the level of interest of your audience. You’ll also be able to assess whether your pricing is right and whether your marketing message is resonating.
And don’t worry, research doesn’t need to take weeks. For a quick back-of-the-napkin assessment of your idea, you can use Josh Kaufman’s ’10 Ways to Evaluate a Market’ method.
How can I stand out from the competition?
Knowing exactly who you are up against will help you create a more unique brand. As Marty Neumeier explains in his book Zag, “radical differentiation” is key to success. By conducting a competitive analysis you will gain insights into who your competitors are. You will also be able to identify what your competitors’ brand message is, which products and services they offer, how they engage with their audience and the tactics they use to attract and retain customers. This information will allow you to get very clear on what your ‘USP’ or ‘Unique Selling Point’ is and on how you can best communicate this to your audience.
To conduct a competitive analysis, start by making a list of your top 10 competitors. Once your list is ready, review the website and social media channels of each of your competitors to identify the following elements:
- Who are their target customers?
- What type of service packages or products do they offer and at which price?
- Does their website have a blog? If yes, what do they write about and how frequently do they publish new posts?
- Do they send out a regular newsletter?
- Does their website rank high on Google for certain keywords?
- On which social media channels are they active?
- What and how often do they post on social media?
- How many followers do they have and how much engagement are they receiving from followers?
- What do they seem to be doing really well?
- What seems to be their weakest area?
Why is no one buying my products?
Market research is not only useful before you start your business or launch a new product. It can also provide very helful insights after launch. For example if you’re not seeing the sales results that you were expecting you can use market research to pinpoint the cause. Is the issue related to lead generation (i.e. your target audience doesn’t actually know about your businesses or products)? Or maybe there is an important element that’s missing from your offer? Or is the problem related to pricing? Getting clarity on why no one is buying your products will help you re-adjust your strategy and make more sales.
Does my website copy resonate with my target audience?
Ideally you want to grab the attention of people who land on your business website. You want them to keep reading through all your amazing content and offers and eventually convert into paying customers. And that is much more likely to happen if your website copy connects with your target audience.
That’s why it’s so important to speak your customers’ language in your copy. Using the exact same words than they use to describe their challenges and goals will create an instant connection because they will feel like you ‘get them’. Market research can help you compile a “word bank” that you can then use for your website and marketing material copy. This can be done either through 1-1 conversations with your ideal clients (probably the most effective method), through an online survey or by looking through conversation threads in online forums and communities.
What is the most effective way for me to spend my marketing budget?
If you’re a solopreneur or a small business owner, it’s likely that you don’t have a massive marketing budget at your disposal. So you’ll want to spend your budget as efficiently as possible. Rather then spending money on a Facebook ad campaign just because that is “what everyone else does” it makes more sense to first determine what the best possible way to reach your target customers is.
Marketing research will help you get crystal clear on what your ideal clients’ needs and motivations are, the type of words they use to describe their challenges, which social media channels they engage on and what type of messaging resonates with them. Based on all this information you will be able to narrow down the number of marketing tactics you implement and focus on a marketing strategy that will lead to real business results.
How can I get clients to come back to my business?
Getting new clients is great. But turning clients into ‘fans’ or long-term customers is even better. It saves you time and money (no need to run extensive brand awareness campaigns any more). And most importantly, it is really rewarding because it means that your service or product is adding real value which is why your clients keep coming back. So putting in the time and effort to get feedback from existing customers is definitely worth it.
The way you do that will depend on the type of business you run. For example – if you sell outdoor gear online, you can send your customers a short online survey and reward them with a discount on their next purchase. Or if you organise adventure travel trips the best way to get feedback may be through informal conversations with your clients throughout the trip. Whatever you do, it will be worth it.