For small business owners, it can be easy to invest time and attention on day-to-day management activities, get stuck doing competitive analyses, and fail to stay focused on big-picture priorities that affect the bottom line.
Most business owners know the benefits of market research, yet it tends to fall further down the priority list. However, running a successful business means knowing your customers, competitors and your industry. Market research offers the opportunity to analyze vast amounts of data and glean valuable insights into these topics. This can help you make informed business decisions and identify sales opportunities.
Here are a few ways market research can help your small business thrive:
Knowing consumer preferences and being ahead of industry trends can propel your small business into a new market or niche with an unmet demand. Likewise, knowing your customer needs and demographics will help you determine whether jumping on a trend is right for your business. Market research is also useful for testing ideas with your target market before rolling out new products or services.
Know Your Competition
One way to stay ahead of trends and know your industry inside and out is understanding your competition, and market research can help you do that. Not only can you discover the best practices your competitors are using and what’s working for them, you can also learn from their mistakes and gain deeper insight into what part of the market they aren’t serving or customer needs they aren’t meeting.
Informed Decision Making
With the knowledge of industry trends and the competitive advantages you’ve gathered using market research, you’ll be able to make better decisions when it comes to developing new products, launching into a new market, or reaching your target audience with marketing messages and other communications. In essence, you’ll be confident that you’re staying focused on the bottom line and real business growth rather than spinning your wheels.
Sold on the idea of investing time and energy into market research for your industry? Market research should be an ongoing activity for your small business, but it doesn’t have to drain your time or budget. To get started, decide whether you’ll conduct the research in-house or hire a third party. Whether you’re tackling it yourself or working with a professional services firm (recommended), get clarity around the framework for the kind of data you’d like to analyze, both from a customer and competitive perspective – things like strengths, weaknesses, offerings and mission. Next, make a comprehensive list of your direct and indirect customers. Make your research an ongoing process that you revisit quarterly, making adjustments as you go.
With market research you’ll understand your business in an entirely new way and gain fresh perspective on the issues that impact your growth.