We come across many small businesses that have the “if you build it, they will come” mentality. In most cases, that’s not exactly how it goes. Though, there are some local Phoenix eateries we know of that blew up overnight because their grub was killer! …but I’m getting off-topic.
We’re going to give you a few reasons and actionable insights on why and how market research is useful for a small business!
What is Market Research?
Though it may seem a daunting task, in it’s simplest terms, market research is looking into your niche, geo, customer base, and competitors to gain an understanding of your market.
The more information you can collect, the better and more calculated you can be when it comes to offerings, pricing, and advertising.
A great rule of thumb that a new small business can do is to emulate their competitors until you can build up a book/name of your own. If you see them advertising, it may be worth putting your own message out there. If they are collecting emails on their site, you should do the same. Until you’re able to secure market share in your target market, you can use your competitions as a guide of what actions to take.
When should you do Market Research?
Seriously… As a business owner, your business plan should include a marketing strategy that covers the basics of primary research (geo, competition, offerings, pricing) and secondary data (competitors ads, service areas, social activity, etc.) before ever making a business decision.
Market research means the difference between a brilliant business idea or opening yourself up to unthinkable business risks and financial risks. See if you can create a “focus group” and talk to your competitor’s current customers to collect relevant data that can help you make informed decisions on an action plan to move you further up the “ladder” in your current market.
Types of Market Research?
When it comes to exploratory research, you can go traditional with things like reaching out to a trade association or reading trade publications, industry reports, business publications, government agencies (Census Data), and other public sources, or you can choose from a wide variety of online tools that can give you a large range of data, from basic Google searches and paid ad spying to social media research of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms.
There is a large SAAS ecosystem focused on marketing research, full of tools that scrape and compile data points in every industry possible. The key is pulling the relevant data to better understand your target audience and to help you build a robust marketing plan.
As a small business, usually on a tight budget, utilizing some of these research tools may come at a cost, but we tend to think that going into a market blind without knowledge of your target customer or economic trends carries a much higher potential cost.
BONUS TIP: A lot of the market analysis tools out there come with a free version (freemium plan), a free trial period, or a free download. Get in, get your market report and starting point, and get out! Then, when you have a budget to support and subscribe you can expand on your knowledge base and industry data!
How do you do Market Research?
As mentioned above, there are plenty of ways to gather is valuable information through online research. In this case, we’ll focus on the basics.
3 Basic Market Research And Competitive Analysis Tactics You Can Implement Today Using Public Sources:
- Do a Google search for one of your main keywords, if you’re local be sure to add a modifier for your primary market (Arizona, or Scottsdale). This will give you a good idea of your immediate competition by looking at who’s ranking organically in search engines and who is spending money on paid advertising for potential customers.
- Click through each of the top-ranking competitors and poke around. Look at their product line or services offered. See what primary information overlaps. Check out similarities in their sites or online presence. See what they are creating blog topics around for content marketing. Collect this detailed information and any additional information that fits your needs and start building where the “overlap” occurs. This will give you an idea of the strengths and weaknesses of your competition… exploit the weaknesses!
- Go to your competitions GMB (Google My Business) and Yelp online reviews to look at product reviews or service reviews, a.k.a. customer satisfaction, of your ideal customer. This research process will give you a good idea of where your competition is slipping, uncovering business opportunities and action items for you to execute on. If your potential customer is unhappy with their current provider, this is a pain point you can use to swoop in with your amazing customer service to acquire their existing customers.
What does Market Research tell you and how do businesses use it?
In today’s market, no matter your business, everyone needs to be a bit of a digital entrepreneur. Using the tools at hand to gain an edge in your market segment.
You may be feeling a bit overwhelmed, and we get it. There are so many market data points you can focus on. Product features, growth potential, digital presence, market segmentation, customer demand, cost factors, and, and, and… the list goes on. Realistically, that data that matters most is the data that you can take action on now.
We touched on it above, but if you’re just starting out, look at what you can take action on now. Yes, it’s all important information, but you can suffer from analysis paralysis very quickly once you start down the rabbit hole.
A shortlist of things to consider:
- Customer Personas built from your Customer Insights
- Search Results of Industry Competitors (Who and what)
- Blog Posts and Content Topics
- Popular Product or Service (What they sell the most of)
- Their “Offers” (Copy Writing to entice conversion)
- Nurture Funnel (Follow-up)
Starting here is will give you enough to get your site, brand, or offers off and running in the market to start getting that immediate feedback you need to start to tailor products, services, and offerings as you expand.
Don’t get overwhelmed! You can always readjust later.
Big business has been utilizing market research for as long as business has been a thing.
With a bit of foresight, you too can do the customer research to gather useful and accurate information that will help your small business figure out its forecasted growth in your market.
Don’t feel overwhelmed. Start small and expand on primary and secondary research as needed. Going too deep too soon may create potential problems.
Emulate your competition to start, then expand as your brand awareness does.
You can do this!
…but if you don’t want to, we can do it for you!
What are some of your favorite tools and tricks when doing market research?
For 15+ years now Adam has helped business brand, plan, and grow.
With a background in media buying and specializing in data-driven marketing he founded the Painted Brick Digital Agency to act as your in-house marketing and advertising department.
“Cookie cutter doesn’t work in a world that is constantly evolving.”