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Market research tips for small businesses

Essential market research tips to help get you started.

Market research is one of those things you hear about all the time in the world of business, but if you’re not exactly sure what it involves then it can be tempting to skip it altogether. Don’t underestimate the importance of researching the market, though; missing out this vital step is a sure-fire way to fall at the first hurdle.

So to help you make the most of market research, we give you some tips and advice on how to carry it out and what to expect, so you can give your business the best chance to succeed.

Fit it in to your budget

Don’t think that market research is reserved for corporate giants who sit around in boardrooms and discuss ‘blue sky thinking’ all day. Effective market research can actually be carried out on a budget, and in many cases you don’t even have to pay at all. Market research can be as simple as asking people in the street if they are interested in your product or service and its price, or making a note of how many people pass by your planned premises and whether the number peaks at a certain time of day.

If you need something a bit more in-depth, you can create a survey and either hand it out to a group of people who make up your target market or ask people to complete it online. Sites like SurveyMonkey let you create free surveys and distribute them to a targeted audience – it couldn’t be easier (or cheaper).

Make sure you ask the right people

It might seem easier to ask your friends and family for their opinions on your business, but the chances of them offering honest criticism is comparatively low than if you ask a group of complete strangers. After all, it’s those strangers who will (hopefully) go on to become your customers, so you need to gauge their opinions before you even try to start selling to them.

Don’t ignore criticism

The vast majority of feedback you receive could well be positive, but don’t brush those negative comments under the carpet. Accepting criticism and working on it could be the difference between your business failing and succeeding. You need to listen to all feedback – good and bad – and take the necessary steps to make sure your business is as consumer-friendly as possible.

Find out what others are doing

Unless your product or service is completely original, chances are there’s at least one other company out there offering the same thing. One of the keys of market research is to find out how and why your offering is different to and maybe even better than others that are already available. How are you going to make sure your business stands out and draws consumers away from those they already use? Find out what your competitors offer, how much they charge for it, and how they go about selling it, then work out whether or not you can stand up to it.

There’s no such thing as too much market research, and the more you do, the better you’ll understand the market – and better target your customers. For more advice, check out the Setting up section of the Biz Hub.

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