Small business owners have a first-hand account of the sheer volume of work that is required to get the proverbial ball rolling. One of the biggest tasks – and one that’s often skipped – is researching the market to ensure that a business idea is viable.The problem is that market research can be quite expensive, as proven by the six figure budgets that large corporations drop on it. Since I’m sure you don’t have six figures to drop on marketing research, here are some steps that you can take that don’t require that kind of money.
Identify your Target Market
As a small business owner, you have an idea that you’re confident can help others. You just have to know how to tell the world about your amazing business. The first step is to identify your customers by developing a targeted customer profile. Don’t fall prey to the trap that everyone will want to buy your product or use your service. It could be true, but at this stage you need to focus as tightly as possible.
Ask the Best Questions
The quality of answers we receive is going to be highly influenced by the quality of questions we ask. If you try to research by asking open-ended questions, you’re going to find yourself overwhelmed by the sheer volume of data that will need to be sorted. This makes an already complicated process even worse! The solution is to ask simple questions that can be answered with either “yes” or “no.” Then expand on those questions. A couple of good examples include:
- Would you be willing to pay $100 for this product?
- Do you think this product is packaged in an appealing way? If not, then what could be done to improve our packaging?
Ask your Network
Once you have gone through the process of defining your products and services, ask people in your network what they think. I’m not talking about blasting it on your Facebook page. Reach out to people you know personally and ask them for their input. Sometimes the best information is with those closest to us.
Tap Into the Power of the Internet
I know this seems obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people tap into every resource but ignore the internet. Use Google to search for keywords in your industry. Find hashtags that are close to your business. The internet puts a powerful wealth of information right at your fingertips. Even better news is that this task can be outsourced so you can get this information in a nice, organized report!
Develop a Plan for Utilizing the Information
It does you no good to research all of this information if you don’t do anything with it. You need to develop a plan so that you can put all of that data to good use. Information itself is neutral. It’s what you decide to do with it that makes the difference. Lay out a social media plan, marketing plan, and set up your products and services accordingly.
You’ve taken the time to come up with a plan so now you have to stick with it. One of the keys to success is consistency so make sure that you continue to follow that plan.
Finally, make sure that you never stop researching the market, especially when you make changes, expand, or roll out new products/services.