We’ve all heard of the ‘P’ mantra in one format or another, some cannot be published before the watershed so here is the cleanest and most familiar one :  Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.

Relating this to market research, this week’s blog will explain how to put the first two Ps to good use in order to make the last P the best it can be by doing your homework – aka, research.

So, the three areas we will look at today are:

  1. What is Market Research?

  2. What are you doing the Market Research for (objective)?

  3. Who are you using to carry out your Market Research?

1. In the ever changing world of business it is not enough to go with a hunch or to feel something ‘in your waters’, you need concrete and reliable information from your main source of revenue – your customer.  Your customer is the best medium you have of gaining an insight into your market by way of understanding how to develop your products and services in order to give the customers what they really want.  The feedback gained from market research has a threefold benefit, not only does it allow the business to assess the level of demand for a product, service or new venture which in turn enables the smooth development of a strategic business plan but it also caps the risks involved with financial investment.

So put simply, the primary role of market research is to provide a business with a comprehensive view of consumers’ opinions on service and products so they can grow and outperform the competition.

2. The main thing to remember when doing market research is to concentrate on fulfilling your objective – what are you doing the research for?  Think what you want to achieve from your research and tailor your research methods around it.

  • Do you just want an answer to a closed question, a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on a specific topic

  • Do you want to canvass a topic

  • Do you want to gather opinions

You need to be sure that the answers you get allow you to achieve your objective which will involve tailoring your research method, the questions you ask and who you ask them to.

3. So who are you going to use for your market research?  Perhaps the obvious answer to this question would be your existing customer and rightly so, but only for some questions.  When gaining well rounded and unbiased feedback it is advised to go further afield to gain opinions.  This can be done by exploring all avenues available to you; existing customers’ views, non customers, the wider market…so on and so forth.

How you carry out your research is beneficial to the quality of answer you receive too and there are lots of different ways to do so:

Online – Surveys

Add a survey to your website or email a survey to your customers with a ‘thank you reward’ .  The benefits to this are that it is simple, easy and cost effective with results from a general high uptake being automatically collated.  The downside however is that surveys can often be ignored if they are optional and it is virtually impossible to gauge the customer’s emotional reaction.

Offline – Focus Groups

A favourite of The Apprentice crowd, focus groups involve gathering a collection of target customers and/or existing customers and discussing a wide array of topics in order to gain feedback and get their input.  This is a great way to get face to face feedback whilst having the opportunity to respond instantly but it is limited by the number of people who attend.


These are great for getting information and work well for those who are unable to use online with the benefits being similar to those of online surveys.  The results can also be quantified and analysed easily.

Outbound telephone calls to existing customers

There is a lot to be said for this good, old-fashioned method.  Pick up the phone and ask your customers whether they are happy with your service or product, how was their experience, what would make it better for them?  This cheap and cheerful method is great for building a rapport and you tend to get the best information from existing customers.

Wider market

National market statistics and forecasts by sector show growth, market trends and product results etc. This is great for finding opportunities, and verifying growth and business plans and information is widely available via the national press and the news.

So get one step ahead by using the tools at your disposal, especially your customers, they might not be in business but they definitely know what they want!

Next week we will look at social media for business and how it is the new little black book.

Getting Market Research Right

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