Conducting market research is like putting on your detective’s hat to learn more about the people in your target audience. What are they like? What do they need? And how might your products benefit them?
This effort can seem daunting if you’re a new business owner and have no clue where to start. That’s okay, though—everyone starts from scratch, so let’s give you a leg-up!
In this guide, we’ll explore five tips for putting together—and executing—a solid market research strategy. Along the way, we’ll also suggest some tools that can help you research your audience quickly, easily, and more effectively!
1. Draw up a market research plan
The saying “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” may sound overused and clichéd by now…but it’s still so true.
No matter whether you’re trying to boost your social media presence, promote an event, or conduct business market research (which is the case here), having a plan helps you get crystal clear on how you’ll tackle the goal you want to achieve.
It’s only then that you can proceed with the confidence that you know exactly what you’re going to do, instead of making up your strategy as you go along.
As for what your market research plan should contain, research agency FlexMR suggests keeping it “short and concise,” while still “explain[ing] all facets of the project from objectives to budget.”
For example, what are you conducting market research for? Is it to identify your target audience, if you’re a fledgling business? Or are you gauging the demand for an upcoming product? Be as specific as you can.
Your plan should also spell out how you intend to undertake market research. If you aren’t sure what such methods could be, feel free to take reference from the rest of the tips below!
2. Survey your target audience
While you could guess what people in your target audience like and dislike, it’ll be smarter to just ask them yourself.
One of the benefits of market research is that you get your information straight from the horse’s mouth. This way, you’ll have more accurate insights on whether your target audience finds your products appealing than, say, you conducting a hypothetical thought experiment from your armchair.
Surveying your target audience could be as straightforward as posting your request for feedback on social media, like what Andy Mowat, CEO of Gated, has done in this LinkedIn post:
(We also like how he’s offered to donate $10 to charity for each person who shares their feedback—that’s a great incentive for sure!)
Alternatively, for a more structured approach to conducting a survey, design an online survey with various questions for your target customers to fill out. There are many survey creation tools that you can use for this purpose, but we find Typeform pretty budget-friendly.
Typeform offers a free plan that lets you create unlimited surveys so long as you don’t include more than 10 questions in them, and collect no more than 10 responses per month.
3. Undertake social listening
Social listening refers to the act of keeping tabs on what people are saying about your business on social media.
Unlike attending a focus group, your customers probably aren’t aware that you’re tracking their online chatter. As a result, they may be more open in sharing their unfiltered opinions on your business—both the good and the bad.
For example, check out this Reddit discussion on the best air fryer models. The users in this thread have shared their thoughts on the best air fryers, which you may find helpful if you sell air fryers and want to know what makes certain models popular with customers:
Since manually scanning every social post for mentions of your business isn’t a good use of time, however, use social listening tools to automate this process.
A tool like Awario can help monitor your preferred topics (such as the names of your business or products) in the background. Then, when it detects a mention of your business, it’ll automatically alert you about this.
4. Read customer reviews
When customers review a product they’ve purchased, they typically discuss the product’s pros and cons and who might benefit from it. This makes reviews a fantastic resource for product market research if you want to know your customers’ needs and how you can offer products that meet these.
Just take a look at this phone tripod review on Amazon, for example:
The buyer’s feedback on the tripod is positive as a whole. However, they’ve provided a suggestion for making the tripod “perfect”—namely, adding one more locking knob to it.
So just imagine if you made and sold tripods. You want to come up with an amazing tripod that will fly off the shelves. Could you design your tripod with an extra knob to lock your customers’ phones more securely, such that the tripod handle doesn’t get swung around by the phone’s weight?
If so, you might just have a new best-selling tripod on your hands.
5. Create buyer personas
Once you’ve started getting a good idea of what your customers are like, compile your hard-earned knowledge into buyer personas.
This succinct document provides an overall snapshot of your target customers, containing details such as their:
- Gender and general age range
- Geographical location
- Interests, wants, needs, and pain points
- Personal beliefs and values
With such information, you’ll have a better idea of how to design products that meet your customers’ needs, or market your products in a way that appeals to their interests.
As online marketing strategist David Meerman Scott puts it:
Your buyer personas aren’t set in stone but may need updating as your customers’ preferences change. Therefore, review your buyer personas regularly and edit them whenever you learn something new about your audience.
Start doing your homework on your target customers
Compared to designing a product or watching the sales roll in, researching your market can seem like a chore. But it’s oh-so-essential work, helping you learn about your target customers so you can design products they’ll find valuable and happily buy.
It’s only then that your sales will start to roll in, too!
Use the market research tools and techniques we’ve shared here to put together your market research strategy, then take the plunge into knowing your customers inside out.
Apart from engaging in market research, growing a successful business also involves knowing how to promote it well. Want pointers on these? Then read these articles on the Gradient blog next:
- Free marketing resources to supercharge your marketing
- Quick guide: Kickstart your small business marketing
- PosterMyWall live class: Build an unforgettable brand identity
Senior editor at PosterMyWall.