By Willie Pena

Due to its high costs and time-intensive nature, market research has been a daunting prospect to many small business owners. With the increased adoption of social media, mobile devices and the proliferation of Internet usage around the world, the requirements to conduct market research have reduced drastically. Whether you are looking to grow your business or strengthen your position within your market, well conducted market research offers big benefits.

A Brief Overview of Market Research

Market research is a method of collecting information about your general market, competition, consumer preferences and other demographics. Traditionally, market research involved the use of study groups, observational studies, in-depth interviews, surveys and other tools. With advances in Internet and mobile technologies, market research is evolving and allowing businesses to tap into the vast amount of information available on the Internet. Current popular methods include mobile surveys, social media research and bulletin boards or forums.

Five Reasons to Consider Conducting Market Research

If you are unsure about the benefits of market research for your business, here are five reasons why market research is important for any small business.

1. Offense is sometimes the best defense.

Market research provides information to spur innovation, predict market trends and stay ahead of the competition. Instead of reacting to changes and trends in your industry, you can help to shape them. This means that competitors have no choice but to catch up or allow you to corner your market.

2.  Discover untapped markets.

Understanding your target audience is crucial to growing your small business. However, many businesses make the mistake of failing to continue looking for potential audiences after establishing an initial target. Whether you are finding new uses for existing products and services or tapping into demand in a previously unnoticed market, finding additional markets will help to expand your business and fuel profits.

3.  Learn from your competition.

From social media accounts to performance analysis, market research provides tools to find out what your competitors are doing and how that is working for their business. Not only does this provide opportunities to adopt successful tactics into your own processes, but it also allows you to avoid costly testing of new ideas or techniques if they have already failed for the competition.

4. Hone your branding and marketing.

When it comes to optimizing your branding and marketing strategy, subtle changes, such as the color of your logo or the order of paragraphs in your marketing copy, can have a major impact on performance and profits. Market research offers tools to find out what your target audience thinks of your brand, what needs that they have in their lives and how they speak about similar products and services. Adapting your current strategies with this information is a simple way to improve results and achieve business growth.

5.  Make decisions with increased confidence.

With the busy pace and small budgets that often come with running a small business, it can be difficult to determine the real value and risk of important decisions. Market research provides a way of qualifying your decisions and estimating their impact before they are made. This allows small business owners to pursue new markets, test new ideas and spur innovation within their business with improved confidence and efficiency.

Best Practices for Market Research

Like many other business processes, it is easy to get lost during your market research efforts. These best practices from Insights In Marketing will help keep your market research on time and within budget.

  1. Identify Your Goals: Whether you hope to identify a new market for your business or want to know the best way to market an existing product, listing goals before starting your research provides an easy way to stay on track.
  2. Take Your Time Upfront: This is an invaluable rule of thumb in which to do your market research.  Make sure you are clear about your objects and goals upfront. This is critical to the success of your market research and will also save you time throughout the project.
  3. Don’t Waste Your Time With the Small Stuff, Think About The Big Picture:  Often time’s time is wasted nitpicking minor details about your project. Being thorough is important, but you want to make sure your not wasting valuable research time. Focus on the big picture and the results your searching for.
  4. Conduct Your Research and Analyze Results: With planning out of the way, it is time to initiate your plan. Once you have finished, analyze your data by comparing it to the questions and concerns listed in your goals.

Market research might seem intimidating to many small business owners. However, with the increasingly competitive nature of the global market, it is an important part of business success. These tips and best practices make it simple to implement market research practices within any small business.