Do-It-Yourself Market Research

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Market research is the collection and analysis of data, and it is essential for every business, product or service. Unless you do the necessary research, you’re just hoping for some luck because you have no idea if what you’re offering is needed, wanted or has the potential to sell.

While it’s often used in evaluating a new product or service, you can conduct market research for many other reasons, including:

  • Gauging the effectiveness of a new marketing technique
  • Evaluating your competition
  • Identifying potential problems that need a solution you can provide
  • Measuring client satisfaction

The problem is that market research for the small business owner or freelancer can be intimidating. How do you figure out the best methods for conducting your research, especially when you have a very small budget, if any, to dedicate to it?

Here is a look at a few ways you can conduct your own market research for little financial investment, and hopefully, gain some useful information.

Conduct an Ongoing Survey

If you have a website or blog, you have an excellent opportunity to conduct market research. In most cases, the people visiting your website and reading your blog are a part of your target audience, and exactly the people you want to hear from. You can create a poll that is a standard part of your site, or design a survey that is incorporated into an opt-in form to gather input.

Ask for Client Feedback

It’s a good idea to use client satisfaction surveys as a standard part of doing business; there is a lot that can be learned and applied to future activities. If you have time, individual interviews with clients can be an even better way to find out why they hired you, what they thought of the work process, and how they envision utilizing your services again. This is all useful data that can be used in your market research.

Participate in Online Networking

So much can be learned from your peers, and online networking is inexpensive and easy to do. The best way to gain useful market information from online networking is by engaging in meaningful interactions, then watching and listening to what others are saying.

Initiate a Test

Whether you’re gathering feedback on a new website, gauging the effectiveness of an email marketing campaign or analyzing the demand for a new product, you can learn a lot from a test. Use split testing on ads, usability testing for a website and even run a test launch to see what the response is like before committing to go full throttle.

Take Note of the Competition

Watching what your competitors are doing can be a great way to gauge what works and what doesn’t work. While you won’t want to duplicate what your competition does, you can certainly pick up a few hints about what is working for them. If your competition uses the same ads, email marketing and other techniques over and over, there’s a good chance it’s working for them and that they’ve found a demand for what they’re offering.

Market research doesn’t have to be intimidating or overwhelming, and it’s possible to gather useful information without investing a lot of time or money. How have you conducted market research in your business?

Image credit: Lockheed

Alyssa GregoryAlyssa Gregory
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Alyssa Gregory is a digital and content marketer, small business consultant, and the founder of the Small Business Bonfire — a social, educational and collaborative community for entrepreneurs.

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