5 Free Ways for a Small Business to do Market Research
Making business decisions in the absence of market research data is a risky business. If you don’t know how your product’s going to land with customers in your sector, how can you predict risk, revenue or growth? Market research is critical to small businesses because it provides you with the information you need to:
- Develop your product
- Introduce it to the market
- Persuade customers to buy it
That’s why the Outsource Your Marketing team have come up with 5 free ways for a small business to do market research.
What Do You Need Market Research To Tell You?
First and foremost, you need to know if there’s a demand for your product. Are there rival products in the pipeline? Are consumers demonstrating a need for what you’re selling? Where’s the demand coming from? Are you in competition, or are you first to market – and do you know if there’s a market for what you want to sell?
As a small business you need as much information as you can find about your potential customers. Not just the broad brushstrokes of age, gender, income and geographical spread; you need to know:
- What the specific problems are customers need a solution to
- How customers talk about those problems
- Who customers talk to about them
- Where customers look for solutions and the phrases they use when searching
- What customers would consider a ‘solution’, and how much they’ll pay for it.
5 Ways to Glean Information About Your Customers – For Free
None of the following suggestions will cost you a penny, but they will eat up your time. Put aside the hours to be able to do a thorough job, though, and you’ll find that the data you gather will pay dividends in the long run.
1. Who Are Your Competitors?
Do you know who they are? How are they marketing the product you want to sell? How successful are they? Competitor analysis gives you the closest thing to a ‘marketing research shortcut’ you’re likely to encounter. Because, with any luck, they will have done their research and you can learn from it. Cast a critical eye over their online presence; check out what they’re doing well, where their weaknesses are, and what’s missing from their pitch that you can fulfil.
2. Reddit & Quora
Both Reddit and Quora depend on users’ questions to drive topic-based forums. All you have to do locate the forums that are talking about, or around your product. If you’re wanting to sell craft beer you’ll be able to find out what’s popular with different groups of people, where they like to buy it, what they’d like improved, and where there are gaps in the market.
3. Google Analytics
Small businesses can use Google Analytics for free. It’s key to understanding who visits your website pages, including their gender, age, and geographical origin. The site also tells you how your visitors are finding the pages they land on – so you may find that social media is the main gateway, but that older people are using Facebook, whilst younger visitors are coming via Instagram. Once you know this, you can tailor your marketing messages to match your audience.
4. Work Out Your Keywords
The vast majority of searches for products start online with keywords; words or phrases typed into a search engine. If you know the most popular search terms for your product, you know how to describe, and therefore to sell, your product. Moz offers an invaluable online tool which allows you to discover either the search terms attached to your product, or the keywords your website already ranks highly for.
5. Talk to People
This is, without doubt, the most invaluable way to learn about how your customers view your company, your product and your marketing strategy. How you get to do it will depend on what it is you’re selling. If you have a Facebook community you could ask for volunteers to try out your product, or you could run a survey. Perhaps you could try out a pitch on Reddit or Quora and get people to offer feedback.