Three Quick and Easy Market Research Methods For Your Business

Market Research CartoonFor a number of people that I come across, when they hear market research, they think of some overly complicated, multi-focused project that involves pages of survey questions, books of data, or hours of sitting behind the Law & Order mirror at a focus group facility.  Although all of these are common and are enjoyed by myself and (I assume) market researchers around the globe, it does not need to be that complicated.  Now, if you are trying to develop a business plan or some three to five year strategy, a simple approach may not necessarily be what you are needing and will not likely answer the burning questions in your business.

However, if your needs are fairly simple and basic, simple research methodologies can go a long way.  By simple, I mean with just a little extra effort and limited additional cost.  Here are three quick and easy ways to do some market research to improve your business.

  • Develop a customer database:  Now I am not just talking about a customer relationship management (CRM) program (like salesforce.com, Nimble or ACT!) just to get their contact info, although this is important.  Get some additional information based on categories your customers are in, buying motivators, and frequency of purchase.  For example, if you run a shoe store, get information like their ZIP Code, family status, ages of the people in the household, gender, and household income.  If you are a B2B organization, getting information like customer or prospect headcount, revenues, margin, growth %, budget for what you sell, likelihood to purchase would be important.  Once you have a critical mass, you can search for patterns in your customers.
  • Implement customer satisfaction surveys:  There are a number of free or low cost online survey tools that can be utilized.  You could also develop one from a standard word processing document and print out so customers can fill out.  Also, a post-sales follow-up call provides a great opportunity to get one done verbally.  Generally, make these short and develop a “key question” that will be a good indicator of the overall satisfaction.  Higher volume consumer based businesses may be a question like “Rate the overall experience you had today at Joe’s Pizza”.  Be sure to get purchase information like date, time, or a receipt number if you have a robust point of sale (POS) system.  If it is a B2B or a high priced consumer product, like a car or a new home, a better question would be something along the lines of “How likely are you to recommend WebDesigns, Inc. to your colleagues”.  Also, keep the scales simple.  Typically, a 1 to 5 scale will suffice.  Also, personal opinion, avoid ranking as it is hard to justify the difference between your #1 and #2 ranking and my #1 and #2 ranking.
  • Test out new products:  Now, this will not necessarily work for all businesses.  But if it does, set up a demo of a new product or a taste test in your store.  You can have someone who is already an employee lead this.  Afterwards, have the participants answer a very simple survey on whether they like the product, understand and value its features and benefits, and would likely purchase.

The most important element to all of these is to actually look at the results and change your business, if needed, to fit what your customers are looking for.  Doing research just for doing research is a waste of time, money, and effort.  However, by looking at the results, even at a high level, you can learn about your customers and how they think about your business.

What were some quick and easy market research projects did you do to improve your business?

–J. Nolfo helps companies understand their market and customers though a variety of market research strategies. He has over ten years of experience of market research for strategic planning purposes. He is the Director of Research at Rhino Market Research. He shares his thoughts about market research and business concepts with his blog “Pensare…Understanding Market Research in Business“. If you would like to discuss this blog or how J. can help you understand your market and customer needs, email him at jnolfo@rhinomarketresearch.com.

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About J. Nolfo
Well...there is a lot to know. #Cx, #Analytics, #SM, Specialty #AgChem, #StL sports, & more. FT @BASFAgProducts. @Mizzou Alum. Supporter of the #Rhino. Tweets my own. #SMMW17 attendee....Dad...Hiker...Scouter...and so much more.

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