Not today – The first phase of any professional market research is desk research – this is something anyone can do using the internet. For DIY researchers, the internet has two important sources of information:
- The websites which companies, organisations and individuals have created to promote or communicate their products, services or views;
- User groups that are made up of people who have an interest in a particular industry or subject.
There are tips that make searching the www easier and more targeted. I use Google Advanced Search – you can easily look at all their tips yourself but here’s a few that work well for internet market research:
- By putting double quotes (“”) around a set of words, you are telling Google to consider the exact words in that exact order without any change.
- The *, or wildcard, can be very powerful. If you include * within a query, it tells Google to try to treat the * as a placeholder for any unknown term(s) and then find the best matches.
- Use the file type “PDF” because most research reports are large and are protected.
- Set a date range e.g. not older then 12months – and then you get the latest reports, which is important in this fast moving market environment.
- Finally, if you can’t find an industry report, pick and industry that services the same customer base and you will at least have some useful data about your customer segment.
What your desk research won’t tell you is “WHY they buy from you”? You can simply talk to your best (or worst) customers to ask them. My suggestion is that you draft a list of questions and ask the same questions of every customer, to provide better comparisons, but also to validate the data. Then you need to capture this information, if you have only a few customers – not so hard – but when you have hundreds – you should look at other survey methods.
There are many free online survey cloud options, ranging from Survey Monkey, SurveyGizmo to QuestionPro. The free service has restrictions but if you are just starting out, you will not need anything too sophisticated. The most important action is to start understanding your customer and market.
Tip 1: Look for a free package that provides a link to the survey and that way you can post your survey link on your social networks and email out to your customer or subscriber base – ensuring that you are getting feedback from connections that know you and your products and/or services.
Tip 2: If you want to improve survey response rates, offer an incentive prize that will be appealing to your audience!
It’s so important, I am going to say it again: The most important action you can take in your business, is to start understanding your customer and market. Good luck, and let me know how you are progressing?
Zenworkz Authentic Marketing has our own online survey tool, which is very sophisticated survey software. Thats why I like to help my customers get clear about what information they need to know; create a survey specific to their needs; provide all the administration of the survey emails or social media posting; and producing the reports – it’s not free but it is very cost, time and results effective. If you would like an obligation free quote – please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
About the author: Teresa Bassham is the owner of Zenworkz Authentic Marketing and educates businesses to think, create, engage and optimise their marketing effort. She coaches customers in Marketing Strategy, both off and online; and implementation. If you would like some free how-to marketing resources, please check her website:
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