Before taking the plunge into unchartered waters or resolving a problem, without doing market research, wrong decisions can be made that end up harming the success of your business.
The purpose of market research is to aid and direct you to making well-calculated business decisions.
Market research assists you in reducing uncertainties, investigating opportunities, and ultimately decreasing the risks of failing or further damaging your business’s potential.
Furthermore, market research is one that guides both short and long-term planning and strategies required to effectively sustain and grow your business. It’s essential before launching any marketing campaign.
The following outlines the key steps in conducting market research for your business:
Define the opportunity or problem at hand and set goals and objectives
Why are you conducting market research for?
Is there an opportunity that exists?
Or is there a problem that needs to be resolved?
The reasons that you perform market research could be that:
– You have a new product/service; you want to ascertain the viability of your offering before you enter the market.
– You need to price your product; you want to establish how your pricing decisions will be received in the marketplace.
– You want to analyze your advertising and marketing strategies; the degree of their effectiveness.
– You have joined the virtual world; understanding how your target audience shops online and which platforms will help generate more traffic to your website.
– Sales have declined; you want to determine the reasons behind your decreasing sales and market share.
Either way, this crucial step forms the basis of your market research. By setting yourself clear definitions, goals, and objectives of the outcome of your intended market research, this will enable your research to maintain focus and effectiveness.
The research design
When you have established the intent of your market research and set in place their goals and objectives, this next step requires you to identify which method of research will gather the ideal information and data.
The chosen designs will be dependent on the purpose of your research, for example:
(a) New product to enter the market and pricing decisions
– Conducting customer focus groups and online surveys
– Product experiments, field trials, and pre-launch testing
– Using social media platforms to acknowledge customer feedback
– Sourcing your competitors’ records (e.g. sale figures, customer complaints, weaknesses, strengths)
– Customer database
(b) Declining sales
– One-on-one employee appraisals
– Analyzing old and new competitors standing in the industry
– Research the current status of the economy
– Industry sale numbers
– Financial trends
– Customer reviews
A thorough research design, that incorporates both qualitative and quantitative findings, facilitates you to gather the right information to analyze and make the right decisions for your business.
Properly develop your surveys and questionnaires to produce the required information and validate that your research is aimed at your intended target audience.
Make certain that the data and information collected are current, reliable, and accomplishes the goals and objectives of your market research; goals, objectives, research process, findings, and the recommended course of action.
Gather data and information collected
Information and data should be gathered in a format that highlights the research findings in a clear and concise manner. Presenting your findings can be done in a detailed report format and in person. Provide visual information through diagrams, mind-maps, SWOT analysis, info graphs and data graph trends as well as written, audio and video quotes/feedback from customers.
Analyze and interpret data and information collected
The analyzed data should give you a comprehensive insight into making the perfect decision for your business’s direction. Effective and successful market research findings are ones that are able to identify major trends, weaknesses, strengths, customer needs and gaps in the market/industry. Furthermore, it should also be able to reveal a clear picture of explaining and solving problems initially set.
Use the input and insight of your colleagues that may generate a differing perspective and to make sure that nothing has been overlooked. It is imperative that findings are interpreted in a clear and simple manner. The final report should provide all information pertaining to the conclusion result.
Make a decision
The conclusions that you have reached from your market research should be aligned to the original set goals and objectives. The reported findings will either support your move forward or inform you to step back and reassess. Use the findings intuitively and without bias. Even though the outcome may cause you to rethink your strategies (or straight out forget them), don’t dismay. You would have saved an enormous amount of financial pain and headache in the long run.
The need for market research is indeed crucial to leading your business down the right path. Many businesses fail to consider market research and thus resort to making bad decisions without the appropriate research.
The basis of your final decision should ultimately lead you to comprehensively understanding your market opportunities and resolving setbacks encountered.
Market research, without a doubt, is a powerful tool! It should be an on-going process to remain up-to-date with market trends and maintain your competitive advantage in the marketplace.
Effective marketing research makes the right quantities of the right product(s) available in the right place(s) at the right time(s) to satisfy target customers while reducing the costs of marketing and acquiring the product(s).
Marketing Messages as a result of your Market Research
After finishing your marketing research, go ahead and prepare your marketing messages and marketing plan.
Advertising and smart marketing can’t be interchangeably used. The latter is an umbrella term that incorporates the former. Marketing is about business development. Knowing the target market and being able to unleash your true potential while reaching out to the customers is known as effective marketing. Successful marketing is not based on some stick and carrot rules or something that can be identified and used as a measure.
However, there are few key factors that need to be understood in-depth to ensure that small and medium enterprises are marketing their products properly. Knowing your best customers, understanding their buying habits; the motive behind their purchases, their buying criteria and buying cycles are few pointers that should be kept in mind when crafting smart marketing strategies.
Marketing messages for customers can be witnessed in various forms. For example television commercials, radio ads, banners, print ads, subliminal messages, leaflets, and many more.
While designing the marketing messages, the following should be kept in mind:
Buyers purchasing cycle should determine the timing of the message.
Mouth-watering schemes and offers to be addressed through powerful and compelling mediums.
Boosting interaction and receiving feedback from customers.
An effective communication method that can help in the groundwork of smart marketing messages is known as AIDA Technique. AIDA stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. Marketers should keep these four basic factors in mind while developing a marketing strategy.
Even though Small and Medium Enterprises can’t afford to hefty price tags on large scale ad campaigns like large organizations, they should focus on developing a strong brand and producing marketing content that can pass on their message in the most accurate manner in order to meet their marketing goals.