Before you can make money from your product or service, you have to figure out whom to sell to. It does not matter how innovative or high quality the product is if you market it to a group that does not need it. Market research lets you target a specific group based on their needs and wants, so you sell directly to people who are looking for your product.
Market research focuses your marketing strategy on potential customers that want your product. Small and local businesses may find researching their market easier than large, nationwide businesses because their customer base is smaller. Timely information reduces business risks and helps spot sales opportunities. Use your research to identify current challenges and potential problems in the current market to develop your action plan.
Before organizing surveys and field studies, experts suggest reviewing customer information that you already have. Sales records, customer complaints, receipts and records regarding where people live and what they buy can improve your marketing immediately. If you offer credit, check consumer credit reports, since they can offer a plethora of information. Talk to your customer service employees because they hear customers’ small gripes and complaints that they rarely report to management. Your employees know which items customers request most often and often can supply good customer profiles from their day-to-day contacts.
Any research obtained directly from the source through interview or surveys is primary research. Offering customer experience or satisfaction surveys to your customers gives you primary information. Many stores and restaurants offer a raffle entry, discount or prize to customers who participate. This method offers direct contact with your consumers and provides specific detailed information designed to meet your needs. Since you get to design the survey or interview, you can focus your questions on information you specifically need rather than general opinions.
Information gleaned from outside surveys, books or newspapers can be rearranged and cross-referenced to meet your needs. Secondary research from local sources such as newspapers and local media is often very helpful. Trade associations and government agencies may have additional information, and public records typically are available at your local public library or website.
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