There are a lot of challenging aspects of marketing in the digital age, but few are as challenging as market research.
Did you shiver slightly at just the mention of market research?
You’re not alone! Market research is a difficult area for most small businesses, but it’s a great opportunity as well. Understanding the concerns, context, and cares of your potential clients is a massive opportunity for any business and it’s one you’ve probably not fully tapped into.
Public domain data, of course, is a great broad-stroke method of analyzing macro trends in your market and industry. However, sometimes you need more tailored market research in your business strategy to properly understand your audience.
Our market research experts here at JSL have compiled the following methods to help you navigate the challenges of market research.
Surveys For Market Research
Surveys are a great way to get direct feedback from your customers! We particularly like this option, as surveys let you get a wide swath of data from a variety of clients and potential clients and then aggregate the answers to get useful data.
Everything from consumer behavior, brand recall, customer attitudes, and buying propensity can be analyzed through the lens of survey data. There’s a number of different mediums you can pair with a survey, whether on your website, via email, via physical mail, or via on-site forms.
There are, however, some best practices to consider when turning to surveying to inform your market research.
- Don’t design long surveys. This will vary from industry to industry and business to business, but generally, we’d start with three to five questions.
- Don’t use absolutes. Asking the respondent if they always buy coffee on their commute might skew results. After all, how many of us always or never do an action?
- Don’t ask leading questions. Your survey questions should be written in a way that does not encourage your respondents to respond a certain way. Remember, honesty is key!
- Take your results with a grain of salt. If you follow political polling, you’re probably not a stranger to the issues that come with any sort of surveying. Anyone survey shouldn’t be taken as gospel truth. Remember, if you’re sending a survey out via email, your results could be skewed by those who actually open the email and opt-in. However, if you send out surveys via multiple mediums and receive similar results across all channels, your results are probably directionally useful for your market research.
Focus Groups For Market Research
Focus groups are another potentially fruitful option for market research. Getting a group of customers in one location to review a logo design or potential users to test a product is a great way to get feedback. However, it is probably the most hazardous market research option. Conducting a killer focus group is not easy and it’s why many firms specialize solely in designing and executing market research via focus groups. There’s a litany of methodological best practices to consider and the ever-present threat of certain biases. One particularly vocal participant could impact the results of your focus group or a careless moderator could unknowingly change the attitudes of the group.
That doesn’t mean you should eschew focus groups altogether. We would recommend turning to focus groups for certain tasks, like reviewing a product or a logo. It’s hard to get useful feedback in these instances via survey, so a focus group is a great option to get the information you’re looking for!
- Make sure every participant weighs in. The opinions of the most extroverted participants could skew your results, so be sure that everyone present offers their feedback.
- Facilitate conversation. You should come with a setlist of ten questions, but the goal isn’t just to conduct a live survey. Your participants might offer suggestions or ask questions that aren’t on your docket but are still useful. Moderate the conversation, but don’t regiment it to the point of micromanagement.
- Use the focus group as an opportunity to learn. The point of this focus group isn’t to affirm your hunches. It’s to uncover new information. Imagine a focus group to review a pending branding change where the questions are designed to get positive feedback. In this hypothetical situation, the focus group moderator may not realize that several of the participants can’t discern what industry your business is in from the proposed logo at first glance. That’s a huge problem! Go in open-minded and let the conversation flow instead of trying to guide participants to the desired conclusion.
Interviews For Market Research
Using interviews for market research has its risks, but it can be a great option! Interviews with specific customers might not give you great quantitative data, but it is a great chance to put yourself in the shoes of a potential client and understand their perspectives and concerns a bit better. At the end of the day, that’s one of the most important aspects of market research! Face-to-face time with clients and potential clients lets you screen out participants that might not accurately reflect your customer base and gauge the emotions and nonverbal communication of your interviewee, insight you would not get from surveys. This also comes without the risks of a focus group we discussed prior.
Like any form of market research, interviews need to be conducted properly and pose some risks.
- Take the time to vet your participants prior. Interviews can be time-intensive, so make sure you have screened out participants that don’t represent your customer base.
- Don’t depend on one single interview. When you opt for interviews for market research, you are knowingly going with quantity over quality. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this approach, but make sure that you aren’t taking one or two interviews as gospel.
- Don’t ask leading questions. Again, you want a complete stream of honesty from your participants. Don’t lead them to the answers you expect them to give.
Supercharge Your Market Research With JSL
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