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Market research is one of the most vital exercises for a new business to conduct before investing their time and resources elsewhere. Professional market researchers specialise in finding, collecting and interpreting information about your industry, your marketplace and your current position, to help you determine how best to achieve your business goals.
What do market researchers actually do?
It's rare for an entrepreneur or small business owner to have done none of their own market research prior to starting their business. At the very least, every person who starts a new business does so because they believe they can offer something that the market wants. In addition, many new business founders will do their homework on competitors in order to ensure their offering and pricing is at least as good (and preferably better) than the established businesses in their area.
Market research includes any activity which gathers or analyses valuable information about your marketplace including:
This information informs your sales and marketing strategies, which should be adjusted to incorporate the latest information at all times.
Can my business benefit from market research?
All businesses benefit from staying well-informed on the conditions of their marketplace and the needs of their customers, so basic market research should be incorporated into your business practices from day one. Simple techniques like installing Google analytics or adding a feedback survey on your website can provide an ongoing source of valuable information to inform your decision making. Attending industry events is another way to gain access to specialised information and stay up to date with emerging trends that may impact you.
Many business owners make a habit of reading business and financial newspapers to stay informed of developments both in their marketplace and in related industries.
Above all else, the internet is the most powerful research tool at your disposal. It's important that you keep tabs on your competitors, seek out information on new developments in your industry and use your social media presence to learn about your community.
At what point do I need to hire a market researcher?
This depends on the type of business you are running or starting. If you are planning to create a new product or service, extensive market research should be conducted while you are still in the concept phase. Professional market researchers can test your ideas and assumptions against larger sample sizes to determine the feasibility of your business and inform an effective marketing strategy to launch it. Investing money in market research while creating a new product or service will mitigate some of the risk, making your business more attractive to partners and investors.
Established businesses should consider professional help when their marketing efforts are not producing effective results. This will help you determine whether it is the product, the price, the marketing or the sales funnel that needs attention. Alternatively, an established business might hire a market researcher when a competitor is outperforming them, despite an inferior or more costly offering.