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Market research provides a foundation to grow and enhance the performance of your small business. Whether you are tracking trends via social media or conducting research by focus groups. The benefits offered from market research are undeniable. While new technologies have made it easier for small businesses to utilize market research, they have also made it easier to get lost in the process or introduce inefficient practices to your efforts. These tips and strategies will help keep your market research lean and reduce costs.

Market Research Basics

Market research is the process of collecting and analyzing data about the preferences, driving forces and trends within your market. This is accomplished using a variety of tools, ranging from simple surveys and in-depth interviews to more complex methods, such as mobile research or biometric analysis and mobile ethnography. Some examples of this can be seen here by Insights In Marketing, LLC. The key to realizing the full potential of your market research campaigns, is understanding best practices and common mistakes.

Benefits of Effective Market Research

  • Improved Targeting: By gaining an in-depth understanding of your market, you can adapt marketing strategies, branding efforts, products and services to improve customer satisfaction and appeal.

  • Greater Confidence: Making big decisions is an intimidating part of running any small business. Market research offers verified data to help you make decisions with ease, avoid stagnation and grow your business.

  • Pro-Active Defense: With the global nature of the modern economy, small businesses must be more competitive than ever. By staying up to date on the latest market trends, sentiments and opinions, you can position your business ahead of trends and corner the competition.

  • Better Customer Service and Loyalty: Consumers want to know that a business values their opinion and considers their wants and needs. Market research provides simple ways to target your business efforts and show customers that you are paying attention. This often results in increased customer satisfaction and improved brand loyalty.

Getting Started With Market Research

With the sheer amount of information and tools available to small businesses, getting started with market research can be a confusing task. While each business and market will require specific elements that others might not need, these five steps provide a solid foundation to start implementing successful market research processes.

  1. Establish Goals: Without goals, it is easy to get lost in the research process. What started as a simple task might expand quickly into a costly and unproductive affair. Establishing goals is an easy way to keep your research on-track and improve accountability throughout the process.

  2. Assign Platforms and Methods: Different market research formats and sources will produce unique results. By assigning specific platforms and methods to each of your goals, you can improve efficiency and ensure maximum return for your efforts.

  3. Create Segments: A critical part of effective market research is segmenting your targets and data. By creating qualified groups of participants, you can uncover additional trends and avoid accidental errors with your data.

  4. Implement Research Strategy: With your plan in place, all that is left is to start your research. Check your list of goals regularly to ensure that you are making progress and staying on target.

  5. Analyze Results Quickly: When information can travel the globe in seconds and consumers have thousands of businesses readily available to serve their needs, market trends change at a rapid pace. Analyzing your collected data quickly will ensure that any information your business gains is accurate and relevant to the current state of your market.

Common Market Research Mistakes to Avoid

A few simple mistakes are all it takes to render all of your time and effort useless. These are three common mistakes small businesses make when conducting market research.

  • Don’t Dismiss Results You Did Not Expect: Even if you have a thorough understanding of your market, results of market research will surprise you occasionally. When this happens, do not dismiss the information without first verifying its accuracy.

  • Don’t Overlook the Obvious: Sometimes, the best information available for market research is information that you already have. From sales histories to web analytics, it is likely that your small business already has a fair amount of information available. Combine this data with new research to discover new trends and improve research efficiency.

  • Don’t Use Family and Friends: Your market research is only as valid as your questions, methods and participants. Using friends and family to gather opinions or conduct market research increases the chance of bias and inaccuracies within your data substantially.

Market research is an essential part of growing any small business. From email questionnaires to in-depth interviews, the number of options available to small business is growing daily. Avoiding common mistakes and implementing best practices is an important part of establishing effective research routines for your business.

Willie Pena is a writer who really enjoys writing about market research and also advice for small business owners. He prefers the Oxford comma. You can connect with Willie on Google+, LinkedIn.

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