Your business will only succeed if customers like your product or service and are prepared to pay for it. Therefore thorough Market Research is essential. Make sure you analyse the results truthfully and thoroughly – even if the outcome isn’t what you wanted to know.
Before introducing a new service or product it is advisable to be able to:
Identify if there is a need/demand for what you are offering.
Discover what your potential customers are prepared to pay for your product or service
Identify your potential customers – ie what do they expect from you
Check out your competitors, what are their strengths and weaknesses
Prepare your advertising, decide where and how to market your product or service, ie: Flyers, Newspapers, Search Engines etc
Good market research is fundamental to better business planning. Set aside TIME to thoroughly research your market. Instead of maybe conducting one Market Survey – do six, seven, eight and compare your results. Improper Market Research may mean that you could be providing a product or service that customers are not really interested in.
By researching thoroughly and providing customers with what they want – you are vastly increasing your chances of running a very successful business.
You need to identify accurately your prospective customers, and tailor your market research to customers that you think may be interested in what you have to offer. As a new business venture your resources are going to be limited – so use them well. Make sure wherever possible you explain the Features & Benefits of your business.
PLANNING YOUR MARKET RESEARCH
The whole point of Market Research is to discover if there is a demand for your product or service and if carried out correctly the results should help you make informed business decisions.
There are 3 main key points to successful market research:-
- Ask Questions
Before attempting to conduct your market research you need to plan carefully how you are going to do it. Think about the following:
Will I be able to interest potential customers in my product or service and will they pay for it?
By providing customers with my product or service am I going to make a profit?
The needs of customers are paramount to a sucessfull business. Am I able to meet the need for demand? Do I have enough resources?
Who are my competitors? Will I be able to compete with them?
Things to think about:
What do customers expect from our product or service?
How much are they prepared to pay for it?
How will they learn about our business?
Will I need to borrow money to get my business started – and if so how much?
Where will I borrow the money from?
Do I need any specialist equipment or skills?
How much will I sell my product or service for?
How many people are offering this product or service already?
Are they successful?
How much do they charge?
Where and how do they advertise?
Thorough, imaginative and well conducted market research is guaranteed to impress people that you may need to help support your business – ie banks, building societies etc.
SURVEYING YOUR POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS
Plan the questions you want to ask and then transfer them into a questionnaire. This will enable you to get a consistent stream of answers that are specific to what you want to know. Also in completing a questionnaire it will make it easier for you to assess the end results.
Some helpful tips:-
Ask questions specific to the product or service you have to offer
Keep the questions fairly simple and short
Make the questions interesting – and ask these first
Keep personal questions for the end of the survey
TRY NOT TO:
Ask any more than a couple of multiple choice questions
Take up too much of your potential customers time – this will just annoy them
Ask too many personal questions
Make the questions too long – or difficult
TESTING YOUR QUESTIONNAIRE
It is always useful to test the questionnaire out on friends or family first to see if they understand it fully – and are able to give realistic answers to what you are asking. If you find that they are asking you to explain what the question means, or they are not sure of what you are asking you will need to reword the question. Five or six well thought out questions should hopefully give the responses needed to ascertain whether or not your business will be successfull.
CONDUCTING YOUR QUESTIONNAIRE
You will need to complete many questionnaires to ascertain whether or not customers will purchase your product or service. Make sure you ask as many people as possible the questions on your questionnaire, Ask various different age groups, not just people who seem easiest to stop. Be prepared for people to just walk on past but nevertheless keep a smile on your face and persevere. The most important thing to remember whan carrying out any Market Research is to LISTEN and HEAR the replies.
KNOW YOUR COMPETITORS
Obtaining information about your competitors is crucial. You will need to know everything you can about them, their products, how many they sell, how much they sell for, do they deliver, do they charge for that delivery, do they offer discounts – and if so how much, where they advertise and how often, how large their customer database is, what makes customers buy from them etc.
It’s not as difficult as you may think to discover information about your competitors. Make a phone call to them, asking about their service or products, what discounts they offer, do they offer free delivery, ask for a catalogue/brochure etc. Listen carefully to their responses, identify any questions they may ask you, whether their customer service is very good. Maybe purchase one of their products. If they do not publish their annual accounts it would be a good idea to purchase a set to gain an idea of how profitable they are. Try and also obtain an up to date price list from them which will give you an idea of how much they are selling their product or service for.
The purpose of Market Research is for you to evaluate your prospective customers and gain sight of matters specifically related to your business. Analyse the results of your questionnaire carefully, exactly and most importantly truthfully. There is little point in you putting time, effort and most importantly money into a business that there is very little demand for. Make time to continue your Market Research, don’t just make it a one off process.
REMEMBER – Market trends change all of the time – by continuing your Market Research you will always be up there with the most sucessfull of businesses.