Market research is a valuable planning tool for businesses of all sizes and types. What's more, you don't need a huge budget to gather data about your customers' perceptions and preferences and how they make buying decisions. Market research can also help you with decisions about where to direct advertising and marketing resources. All it takes is a willingness to learn and some careful planning.
In just 60-seconds, we'll show you how to develop a market research strategy for your small business.
0:60 What Information Do You Want to Know and Why?
What information about your current or potential customers will help you serve them better? Demographic data and travel patterns can help you determine the feasibility of opening a new location, while knowledge about their daily schedules can help you set more convenient hours of operation.
0:44 See What's Already Been Discovered.
There is probably more published information available about your type of business and target market than you realize. Among the best sources are the U.S. Census Bureau, national and regional business publications, trade organizations, and your local chamber of commerce.
0:39 Build on What You're Doing
It's easy to make market research a part of your day-to-day activities. Retailers can use sales receipts, delivery orders, and charge slips to identify where customers live, or monitor inventory trends to gauge the popularity of certain product lines. Tracking orders of daily specials helps restaurant owners determine which dishes are most popular on a weekly or seasonal basis.
0:24 Watch the Competition
You can gain some valuable insights by studying the practices of successful competing businesses. No espionage is required. Just be observant about when and where they advertise, the setting and layout of their various locations, operating practices, etc. Remember that their approach may be driven by circumstances substantially different from yours.
0:16 Talk to Your Customers
As a small business owner, you're face-to-face with your customers. Your market research can be as informal as observing customers in the store or doing a survey and as elaborate as conducting a full-scale research program with focus groups and computer-generated maps. A market research firm or ad agency will cost more than a "homemade" strategy, of course, but you will have the benefit of the consultant's experience and objectivity.
0:03 Ask SCORE
Many of the information resources mentioned above can be found at your local SCORE chapter office. And, by working with a volunteer counselor, you will gain a better understanding of the stories behind the numbers and how they relate to your business. Counseling is free, and available at a SCORE chapter near you.
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