Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Where Should You Begin Your Market Research?

First Resource: Secondary Research

The best place to start looking for secondary research is online. Visit association web sites that are aligned with your industry. If you are in the consumer industry, visit the government agencies because you will find all kinds of consumer information on their sites. A great resource that you won't want to miss is the U.S. Census Bureau. Keep in mind that secondary research is not done for you, so some of the information and answers may not be applicable to you. Whoever it was that commissioned the study had their own questions that they wanted to get answered. The information you will find might be in the ballpark but not on first base.

Second Resource: Your Customers

Put together a questionnaire and have your employees ask prospects, customers, vendors, and suppliers to complete it. A couple of questions you could ask are:

· Do you like our products or services?

· What are we doing right?

· What could we improve?

This method of research also works very well when visiting trade shows. Take a walk around the hall and spend time listening to people's conversations and ask questions. Spending time doing this helps you gain insight to what your competitors are doing.

You can also conduct:

1. Open-ended interviews with your customers.

2. Surveys

3. Focus Groups

Third Resource: Comparable Markets

Look for other comparable markets and share the expense of a study. Remember you want to do this with comparable markets but not competitors. For example, if you are a copywriter, find a company that does print advertising. Once you find someone, sit down and decide what information would be beneficial to the both of you and hire someone to do the study.