• 22 Tue 2022 2 years ago.

Conducting market research is a must for any entrepreneur—before launching and while growing their businesses. This is especially crucial for businesses in their startup phase, as it will help them determine if their product ideas are marketable, profitable, and suitable for their ideal customers.

We asked 17 experts to share actionable market research tips that can help you achieve your business goals. But before we explore these tips, let’s first backtrack to the basics of market research.

What is Market Research?

Market research is the study of a particular industry, or a segment of that industry, in order to gain a deeper understanding of your customers and competitors.

This undertaking can provide you with information that can help you make better business decisions. Among other things, this information should include facts about:

  • your target customers (e.g. the products and services they would like to purchase)
  • your competitors (e.g. how they advertise their products and the tactics they use)
  • your market or niche (e.g. market saturation and ongoing trends)
  • the viability of your new product or service ideas

It’s not enough to conduct research once—you’ll have to study regularly and keep abreast of new developments. How can you do this effectively? Check out the tips below, and be sure to incorporate in your plan those that apply to your business and resources.

17 Tips on How to Conduct Market Research

Make sure you clearly define the problem you’re trying to solve before diving into any research.  A problem well defined is already half solved.

– Craig Johnson | CEO at Matchstic

The only research you truly need has to be within your target market. Asking your potential customers what they need and what they’ve been using up to now is far more effective than trying to decipher what your competition is doing. In fact, you can learn more about your competition from your clients than you can from the source.

– Peter G. Goral | CEO at ArtEnvy Inc.

Gather deep insights with buyer persona research first. Learn what buyers do when they’re offstage, out of sight.

– George Stenitzer | Founder of Crystal Clear Communications

Talk to real customers face to face. We often spend too much time optimizing websites, tweaking ads, and trying to figure out what will make the difference when if we just sat down with a few customers and asked them, we might get insights that would be game-changing, and which you’d never find through testing your own ideas.

– Josh Steimle | Founder of Published Author

Talk to your customers. Listen to your customers. Respond to your customers. It’s really that simple. You have to ask for feedback, but when you do, people are more than willing to share. Ask for what you’re doing well (then do more of it) and what you could be doing better (then fix it). Don’t be afraid of negative feedback; use it as ammunition to enhance your existing customer experience. And always respond to people who provide feedback, positive or negative. It makes them more loyal and more willing to be a brand advocate in the future.

– Dan Gingiss | Chief Experience Officer of The Experience Maker, LLC

I would stress the importance of not only knowing who their target market is, but also who it is not. On my 3-1-3 Challenge Podcast, where I help people uncover their core messaging, I ask about their target market. It is unbelievable how many people use the words “everyone” and “anyone” when they talk about their ideal target customers. I truly believe that if you are for everyone or anyone, then you are for no one. It is easier to default to casting a wide net, especially when doing market research. I would challenge entrepreneurs to do a bit of work on who is NOT their customer first. When you do this, then you can focus your resources and research to learn more in depth about a smaller ideal group of clients, as opposed to less information from a larger group of potential clients.

– Ryan Foland | Keynote Speaker & Author

Talk to your customers, and learn what your competitors do well and what they do poorly. This is the foundation for everything because you have to be at least as good as they are at what they do well, and knowing what they do poorly will help you spot opportunities. The reason you talk to your customers is because you may not know who your competitors are, but it is guaranteed that your customers do.

– David Gaz | Founder of the Bureau of Small Projects – Big Brand and Fortune 500 marketing experience put to work for Small Business, Startups, and Nonprofits

Get onto recorded Zoom calls with your customers. Ask them why they bought from you. Ask what their hope is. Ask them what was the one thing that caused them to buy.

Take the exact words they have said (using otter.ai or Descript) to mine them for ad copy, stories, headlines, blog posts, and other marketing materials. If you have a team, have a couple of your folks do this and share results with the team.

– Dennis Yu, CEO at BlitzMetrics

The common trap for newcomers with market research is treating things like a school project, and not as a real-world campaign. Don’t think of market research like writing a paper that won’t be tested. Instead, think of market research as just “several” starting ideas, in some cases dozens, that will lead to tests to discover the right market segments. Market research should not be all rooted in theory, but rooted in reality. I’ve seen so many failed campaigns due to marketers simply making assumptions without testing them. Market research should be one small tool to set up tests and prove your theory, that’s it.

– Brian D. Evans | Inc. 500 Entrepreneur, Founder of Influencive

One method that never fails is to listen to your customer on any channel. At Metricool, we offer personalized customer service that is in constant communication with the marketing and product team. This allows us to learn what our real customer needs are.

– Juan Pablo Tejela | Co-founder & CEO at Metricool

Most entrepreneurs tend to start with quantitative data. Sadly, most statistical research is actually less accurate than qualitative studies. Don’t get me wrong—numbers are great: large-scale quantitative studies are fast, and they boil down a complex customer into a few pie charts that are easy to discuss. But the fact of the matter is that most companies perceive quantitative reports as more trustworthy, and this is a dangerous mistake to make.

Let’s say your analytics show that people are spending a tremendous amount of time on one particular page of your site. Awesome, right? You must have great content on that page. Well… it’s not that simple. It’s true that they could be spending time diving into your content. Or, they could be searching for a crucial piece of information that’s missing or hidden on the page, getting more and more frustrated with every moment that goes by.

Instead, companies should be combining statistical data with qualitative research. It is the deep understanding of a customer that takes the “What” and finds the “Why” behind it.

Qualitative research could mean interviews or behavioral observation to uncover underlying reasons, opinions, and motivations that are driving customer actions. It helps you spot trends, understand the gaps between planned and actual experiences, and dive deeper into customer pain points.

For example, when my company conducted a research study for a large coffee company, we asked people to record videos every time they brewed coffee and explain what they were doing. The steps to making coffee were predictable, but what we learned about their environment was extraordinary. There was a sizable group of people who brewed their coffee (get this!) in their bathrooms. And the company had no idea because their quantitative data had never shown that. We had discovered a niche audience segment of moms who needed a few minutes to themselves in the morning before they entered the kitchen—before someone needed lunch packed, someone needed to find their pants, and the daily chaos had begun. It was a few moments of calm in the mornings. The company was able to not only create a new product for this segment, but market it in a very specific way to encourage that hotel experience at home.

So the next time you’re planning your research, make sure you’re setting up the right methods for what you need at the moment. Ask yourself: do we need the WHAT, or do we need the WHY behind it?

– Sarah Weise | CEO of market research studio Bixa and bestselling author of InstaBrain

Don’t forget that the data you’re analyzing represents real people: your prospective customers. It’s easy to get caught up in spreadsheets and focus too heavily on the numbers, but the best insights often come when you connect the data back to real human truths. What does your analysis mean about your customers? How can you paint a picture about your audience using the metrics you’ve gathered? At the end of the day, the point of market research is to better understand your prospective customer, so don’t get too disconnected from that by dealing only with facts and figures.

– Alexa Nizam | Content Strategist at Lemonlight

The most successful campaigns are always rooted in a human truth; product, consumer, or cultural truth. Demographic signals are among the weakest ones we have. There is much more power on understanding what we love, in what we’re doing, in what’s happening with our lives, than there is in our age or our gender.

– Jim Jimenez | Account Director at Gigil, The Ideas Company

As a marketer, it’s important to not think about research as binary. Research is always about people and understanding what drives their passions, thoughts, and behavior.

Focus on telling the story about people. Not just the statistics.

– Jeff Ponders | Business Strategist, Author, and Speaker

Entrepreneurs must understand the biggest challenges faced by their target market. Market research is a great way to open that conversation, and lean into a deeper conversation that builds relationships and leads to sales.

– Michael Brenner | CEO at Content Marketing firm Marketing Insider Group

Narrowly define your audience! Find the right partner or platform to gather quantitative and qualitative data to find out their needs/wants. From there, find an insight and “attack” it with a campaign that solves their problems and needs.

– Tod Meisner  | Associate Brand Manager, Aflac

The advice I would give for market research is very similar to the advice I would give about maintaining a healthy diet. To have a healthy diet, you need a variety of fruits and vegetables that are high in nutrition. Some market research is easier than others, which might be similar to getting fast food. But these sources might not be dense in nutrients, or in the case of market research, might be surface-level insights. When you spend time “shopping” and “cooking” up ways to get deeper and more personal insights from your customers, your research will yield more nutritious data. So just like you should invest in spending time to prepare your own meals, take on the same approach to your market research, adding your own personal spices and ingredients to make the questions and outreach unique and appetizing.

– Reyzan Shali | Doctor, Speaker, Author

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