First, market research is probably the most important thing you do no matter what type of business you’re in. If there is no market for your product or service, you’ll have to struggle to survive.
You can either hire someone to do the research for you, or you can do it yourself.
Here are five ways to do your own research:
1. Customer Polling
The easiest way to conduct market research is to poll your current customers. If you publish an ezine or newsletter, include a short survey with it. If you have web pages, add some questions to the top of some or all of your pages.
This is a great way to get useful information on future product releases or improvements for current products from your most likely users. The problem is to get them to respond. Surveys should very short, or include some sort of small incentive to respond (you could give away a product).
2. Attend Events
Seminars and other events are a great way to learn the latest market research. Even if the seminars are not specifically about this, the people attending them have done or know the research, and many of them are already successful at what they’re doing (and what you want to do). Pick the parts of the seminar that you think will be most beneficial to you, then spend the rest chatting and networking with presenters and other attendees.
3. Focus Groups
Focus groups are a tool researchers have been using for a long time. Focus groups are small groups of people brought together to talk about and come up with specific ideas. If you’re working on a topic, you can get together a small group of people who are willing to answer and discuss questions in a group setting. You can do this by actually getting them together, or by getting everyone on a conference call or in an online chat room.
4. Published Data
If you’re looking for a reputable source for market resource, researching published data is the way to go. Take a trip to your local library. While their books are probably outdated, they often have subscriptions to magazines, journals, and journal databases. This way, instead of doing the research yourself, you can simply find the results of someone else’s work. Plus, to make it into these journals, the research must be validated and peer approved. You can of course do some research online as well, you don’t have to visit your local library.
5. Random Surveys
You can use your local telephone book to conduct surveys in your area. If you are looking into a larger market, use online telephone books to expand your survey. You can pull numbers randomly for general opinions, or narrow down people polled by looking only at small restaurant owners or something else your product would be marketed to. Just realize that this method will take you a lot of time and a lot of calling.
These are just five ways that you can do your own market research. Most of them doesn’t cost you anything, other than your time.