Market Research Tips for Small Businesses

Posted by Christy Ryken on Tue, Jul 03, 2012

marketresearchBusiness success for small business owners is often a result of the their ability to make wise decisions. Simply put, making wise decisions increases your likelihood of success. But to make wise decisions, what do you need? Intelligence. And where do you get good business, industry or market intelligence? Market research. Business intelligence gathered from market research is an essential component in developing effective marketing strategy and understanding consumer needs and wants.

Before you can use market research to develop an effective marketing strategy, you need to understand want market research is. Here are the seven steps involved.

1. Define Marketing Problems & Opportunities

The marketing problem can come from a desire to either solve a current problem or pursue an opportunity. Precise definition of the problem or opportunity is very important since it aids in understanding the information that will be needed and helps in formulating research objectives.

2. Set Objectives, Budget & Timetables

The research objective is a short description of the purpose of the market research effort. This provides the focus of everything that is to follow. It is also important to consider budget and timetable limitations on the front-end as this can greatly impact the research design.

– How much money are you willing to invest in your market research?

– How much can you afford?

– Do you have any timeframe limitations?

3. Select Research Types, Methods & Techniques

Selecting an appropriate research methodology depends upon many factors such as your audience, timeframe and budget. But in general there are two types of research: primary research and secondary research. Both types of research have a number of associated activities and methodologies.

4. Design Research Instruments

The most common research instrument is a questionnaire. The nature of the problem/opportunity and the data collection method influence how the questionnaire is structured and the format of questions asked. Crafting a good questionnaire is essential to a successful research study and is an activity best left to professional market researchers.

5. Manage & Implement Data Collection

While data collection seems fairly simple and straightforward, it’s important to ensure you are obtaining clear, unbiased and reliable results. Hiring a third party to collect data helps to eliminate bias.

6. Organize & Analyze the Data

Once your data has been collected, it needs to be assembled into a format in which it can be analyzed easily. This involves editing, coding and tabulating the responses.

7. Present & Use Marketing Research Findings

Once the research information has been collected and analyzed, it should be presented in an organized manner to help guide decision-making.

The market research process is straight-forward, but small business owners inexperienced with these activities should seek professional assistance. Market research, when done correctly, provides you with intelligence that is accurate, intelligence that is presented in context, and intelligence that is actionable. When you understand your market and consumers, you can be much more precise and effective in:

– Executing your business plan

– Driving better decision making

– Reducing risk

– Developing a competitive strategy

Unfortunately, studies show 78% of small businesses fail because they lack a well-developed business plan, including insufficient research on the business before starting it. Market research doesn’t need to be expensive or expansive, but it is a necessary investment in the success of your business.

If you want to learn how your organization can utilize market research to make wise decisions based on business intelligence, contact Strategic Marketing Services. One of our experienced project managers would be happy to discuss which market research activities might be most advantageous for your organization.


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